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z3girl's picture

I just got the "diagnosis" that my 4 year old son has ADHD. I say "diagnosis" because he is only 4 and the doctor only wanted it formalized so that he can continue with an IEP through kindergarten, but she does think he really has moderate ADHD. I thought of him as strong-willed, and doing #2 on the potty has been next to impossible for over a year, but I was surprised by the diagnosis. After talking to her, I now see the signs and agree with it.

Is there any advice anyone can give about having kids with ADHD? Is there anything besides meds that really make a difference? Should I worry about his chances at excelling in school? He tested average with the dr's IQ test, but she said she believes he's well above average. He is going to a special education preschool through our school district, and I have him currently in tennis camp, and in the fall he is signed up for soccer, and I will sign up for more tennis. (The dr said physical activities are really good for ADHD). Any good experiences out there? I'm so worried for him!


Last In Line's picture

My 17yo was diagnosed ADHD at about 4. We tried medication briefly, but I didn't like the way it affected him. (I am not anti-med, my older son took meds for years). He was already on a fairly restricted diet because of allergies, so we didn't eliminate foods as many people suggest, altho we did find that for him V8 Splash made him off the walls hyperactive.

So, we kept him busy. He played soccer. He went to scouts. He walked to and from school. He played outside with the dog. He would fidget a LOT when doing homework once that started...and he was far more able to do his homework standing (his feet would be dancing but he'd get the work done).

He is now a still unmedicated, very active teen. He also is excelling in school. He multitasks like crazy. I'm not sure that today he would be diagnosed ADHD.

z3girl's picture

Thanks for the info. I've read that teenagers learn the coping skills needed to get past the difficulties, so I'm hoping my son will be like yours someday. Smile

My son doesn't have any diet issues besides being mildly picky, but he is the best eater of my 3. I will do my best to keep him busy. Luckily with 2 other boys, they are outside a decent amount.

I don't want to do medication unless he were older and it were a last resort.

ntm's picture

Oh, let me count the ways. Kids are labeled ADHD because PLAY doesn't fit with school curriculum.

When I was in kindergarten, we played as much as we worked on the alphabet and writing numbers. They do didn't even try to teach us how to read, although I went in already knowing. I was one of two kids in my grade who knew how to read before first grade.

Kids are designed to learn through play, not sitting quietly in a chair for hours. They're supposed to be running around and exploring and throwing rocks into streams and searching for salamanders. The old school system knew that. No Child Left Behind has taken childhood out of, well, childhood.

I would suggest you start looking up clip charts and the damage those will do to his sense of self-esteem. Make sure his school prioritizes recess and doesn't take it away punitively--get it in the IEP that he is not allowed to miss recess. Look into weighted blankets and squishy balls for chairs. Find a FB group dedicated to education and children with ADHD. Opt him out of state testing. Your job is to be his advocate. Research, research, research. And if you can, homeschool. It takes about two hours at home to get through a school day's worth of work. And you can do it at the zoo, hiking a trail, or exploring a nearby park.

z3girl's picture

My son isn't particularly fidgety, which is why the ADHD diagnosis surprised me at first. His problems are more about his reluctance to follow instructions when he doesn't want to. For example, when I ask him to clean up his toys, he will whine that "it's too boring" and listlessly swing his arms and whine. According to his doctor, that's classic ADHD because if something doesn't properly motivate him, he will feel fatigue the way the majority of us would during a long physics lecture. In camp this summer, he punched another kid in the throat when it was time to clean up legos and he didn't want to.

His other big issue is refusal to potty train. He just refuses to poop in the toilet, and he tells me he doesn't want to stop playing. It has been a nightmare.

As for the school, he is doing fantastic in the special education program. It's only a half day, and kindergarten will only be half days. We just want to make sure he's prepared for full day school when he reaches first grade. Kindergarten may be an issue because it is MUCH more difficult than I went to school. My older son will be in kindergarten this year, so I will be better prepared for the son with difficulties next year. Knowing how tough kindergarten is now is another reason the dr wanted to give him a diagnosis to keep him in special education because with how well he did with only a month in special education, he may test out before kindergarten.

The FB groups are a good idea. It will be interesting to see about the state testing. I personally loved when we had standardized tests growing up because I did well on them and finished early and it gave me hours to just read books. I'm only beginning to understand the new tests and feel leery about them for all my kids. I really don't want to homeschool him because I have 3 boys and am not a very social person, so I like the thought of him being in school just for the social aspect. I guess I will have to see what will benefit them best. Our school district is known for being really good with kids with special needs, and so far I've loved the contact the child study team and teachers.

z3girl's picture

There was MUCH more to the conversation and the testing. I was just using this as one example.

z3girl's picture

Thank you, that does sound like him. At this point, the "diagnosis" is only to ensure he keeps an IEP without any further recommendations. I like to try to keep them active no matter what, so it doesn't change too much. The dr did recommend a timer and star chart for the continued potty training, and that's the hard for me because it's not like we're just home all day long. I know that it is up to me to step up and work more with him, but his new school has been amazing, which is great. (They wanted me to work with him to sit criss-cross, etc but I haven't had to remind him at all! He even raises his hand when I read stories to him and his brother instead of interrupting...this is only after one month of special preschool!)

The thought of ADHD scares me, so I'm hoping that with this extra help and if I step up a bit, things will work out for him. In the initial Child Study Team meeting, ODD was suggested, so I'll take ADHD over ODD, but just willful is even more preferable. (He does feel remorse when he does things wrong, so the dr ruled out ODD right away.)

Yikes, it will get worse before better?? Is anything worse than constant poop? j/k

z3girl's picture

I agree that a label such as ADHD is bad, but at this age, he doesn't know he is labeled as anything. All he knows is that the old preschool he went to, the teacher clearly did not like him. He is now attending a new school where it was more structured and his teacher doesn't pull him out as if he's a bad kid.

My son's behavior is maddening at times. He is super sweet and loving, but the refusal to use the potty, and his willfullness, messiness, and refusal to follow simple commands is difficult. He is constantly touching things after being asked not to, he is always putting things in his mouth that he shouldn't, he is always breaking things, etc. When I take him for activities, so far the only one that he pays attention to is tennis. At all other activities, he sits or lies down on the floor and drags himself around. If I didn't have an older son who is opposite, I would think it's normal since I don't know any better. My husband has been saying for years (and our son is only 4) that we will end up sending our son to military school.

I'm not looking for labels, but looking for positive actions that can take to help better prepare him for school. I'm worried about my older son entering kindergarten, and I want to make sure this son has just as much opportunity to succeed.

z3girl's picture

I've tried. It has been over a year. I'm at home with him, and even with timers, etc, he CHOOSES not to. In order to get him to pee in the potty, I had to do the opposite of what everyone says and actually punish him and yell at him to even try just once. It has been a year and a half, it's still not done. My other son took a week.

z3girl's picture

Oh no! Sticker and star charts haven't worked as well with him as my other son, but I still try. I feel like I bribe him for normal accepted behavior. But at times he is so proud and happy when he is good. My husband has threatened to send our son to military school, so I'm worried. Ugh!

z3girl's picture

Again, I don't see why it's such a bad thing? I've never dealt with them before. All I know is that he would not have accepted into the preschool without an IEP. From my meetings, they make it clear that they ARE NOT permanent, and our goal is just to get him ready for kindergarten. The doctor gave the diagnosis so that I have the option to keep one in kindergarten, but in no way did anything lead me to believe he would permanently be in special education.

As for the potty training, it's the pooping that's the problem, and he has never had an accident while at his new school. The dr said medication would help him potty train faster, but that is NOT an option as far as I'm concerned. She did assure me to keep at it, and it will happen, but I need to be patient.

moeilijk's picture

I'd like to weigh in on why the IEP is such a bad thing (although I am sure it is positive for lots of kids too).

There was a study where a bunch of psychology students were admitted into a psych hospital with false diagnoses of psychiatric conditions. They were instructed to behave normally. Because everyone who worked there EXPECTED the student-patients to manifest certain behavioural problems, those student-patients were treated as though they did. They were physically restrained, forcibly medicated, all the stuff that is 'normal' for people who DO behave aggressively, violently and irrationally.

Because that was how the student-patients were labelled.

So hopefully the IEP is an effective tool to help your child. But, the day may come when it limits how others are able to see him.

z3girl's picture

I don't understand why an IEP is bad? Our goals in it are to have him potty trained, and to be able to follow instructions given by a teacher. Everyone I've spoken to LOVES this Child Study Team and our school district is known for being good for non-mainstream kids.

Before my son was accepted into the special education program, he cried everyday for over a year, and didn't like school. He now loves school, and I can see evidence of what he learns at home. He now sits properly, he raises his hand trying to control himself from interrupting when excited.

Most of the kids in this program test out pretty quickly, and my son was only borderline accepted. I could have refused, and they were fine. They offered him extended school year throughout the summer, but we opted not to, and keep him in a camp with his brother instead. I've found nothing but support with the school psychologist.

The reason the dr wanted to give him a diagnosis was so that he would have more time with special education before just dropping him into a mainstream classroom all day and watch him sink. We don't have full day kindergarten here, so she felt 2 more years (preschool and kindergarten) with extra help would better prepare him for testing out and attending normal first grade.

On my older son's baseball team with 9 kids, at least a 3rd had IEP's at one point, and all were very positive about the experience they had here.

z3girl's picture

That is the impression I have here. The IEP is simply so child study team can offer the services. They can't simply offer services for a "normal" kid. I never thought of it as a label, nor did I think of it as permanent.

z3girl's picture

I honestly don't know. That particular son does not have one, and will never need one. I don't know the other boys well enough to know their behavior. But they did test out of them, so maybe they did need some help initially, and are now acting appropriately. All I know is that this son is very difficult, and if I can get help to teach him how to behavior properly, I will accept it.

WalkOnBy's picture

Cognitive behavioral therapy. Teach him to identify his triggers. Manage his behavior.

Went through the med thing with Thing2. Tried them all. None worked.

Don't let him use the diagnosis as an excuse. He may outgrow it - Thing2 has for the most part but his behavior reared its ugly head recently while he is studying for his MCAT and we spent lots of time on the phone working what he learned in CBT.

Pm me if you'd like more info.

z3girl's picture

Thank you. The school has an OT on site, but he hasn't been asked to work with one. The dr said with her notes, they will then get one to work with him.

Is Cognitive behavioral therapy taught by an occupational therapist?

If all goes well, I won't let him know he is labeled as anything. I'm hoping that what he learns in these structured classes will help him cope in mainstream ones. I see that he is taking in what he is learning (like him raising his hand to talk) and it gives me hope that he will learn and just grow out of some of the behaviors.

Thumper's picture

Oh geeze the boy is only 4 years old for Christmas stakes.

Google the medication used to treat adhd/adhd for starters. You will see it is METH based as in crack.

DONT FALL FOR THIS<,please. He is not going to pooh his pants for ever. Maybe keep him back until he is 6 for kindergarten? Make sure there is no medical problem first.

Hire a tutor or start to home school OR better yet send him to day care they will potty train him. "single moms' /divorced parents fall into this all the time meaning they fall for this.
Praise for pooh :). Pick a movie for going potty.

z3girl's picture

I absolutely will not medicate him. If he is an adult, he can make that decision for himself. I will not medicate a child unless he is really sick, or he's so unmanagable that I really have no choice. At 4, I can't fathom that.

The school will help with the potty training, but he's only there for 3 hours a day. So far he hasn't had accidents. Since he's done #2 on the potty of his own volition once, I think there's a chance it might happen in the future. He's getting too big for pullups, so I can only hope it will start to click soon.

Nothing actually motivates him to poop because he just doesn't want to stop what he's doing. The only way I get a reaction out of him is to threaten to tell Daddy that he had an accident, but the dr insists positive reinforcement is the way to go. *sigh*

Disneyfan's picture

OP, the potty issues can be dealt with in the school. You can request a medical or toiletting para in his IEP.

Another option, would be to pick up a 504 form from the school and have his doctor fill it out simply saying son needs a para to assist him with bathroom issues. You do not have to have an IEP in order to complete and have the school honor a 504.

In my school, students with 504s (man for medical reasons that require them to have help when the use the bathroom)basically end up with a one to one para which a plus for the child, other students and the classroom teachers.

I would not suggest medicating your son until all other options have been exhausted.

z3girl's picture

Potty training is currently in his IEP.

I never heard of 504s, so that is good to know. Thank you. I'll keep that in mind as he gets older if this continues (oh please let him be fully trained within the next school year!)

The good news is he is dry about half the time at night, and the dr was surprised about that. I see that as a good sign.

I absolutely will not medicate him. The dr told us that medicating will help with the knowledge that we will not. She was just saying it would help, but not as in "I think you should consider it for your son."

Thumper's picture

Rule out medical issues first, trust me Mommy he will start to use the potty almost as a peer pressure nudge , NOT in a mean way, but he will want to be like the others who use potty time and no pull ups. Relax and give it some more time. Take it off your OH MY GOD list. Buy some inexpensive big boy underpants that you may have to ditch. "Lets keep these nice and clean for 1 hour, ok?'. Here we go LETS set the timer..If he is is excited about this, try it again the the afternoon... Next day LETS keep these nice and clean for 2 hours, here we go lets set the timer---LET me know if you must go potty and we will go, OK? In a sing song voice. Kids love timers.

Just read a article actually maybe 1 or 2 months ago about potty training pressures moms' and dads face AND then of course kids feel at a really early age. You know the ones who say their 1, 2 and 3 year old are totally potty trained. What they fail to tell you is the they have accidents all the time. New guidelines suggest do NOT to push little ones because they can not fully control bladders and little hinny's. MAKES ME SO MAD to push them for the past 15 years.

It will be ok. Smile

I raised several kids each one was different with going potty. I didn't push or poke fun, we made it a game and low and behold it happened. It took the one a very long time and I do mean long time.

Wait until he is in Elem School loaded down with back packs filled with 3 hours of homework .... You will wish he was still in pull ups. Wink Elem school is the worst.

HE will be ok.................
Glad you decided no to medicate him. Google for example adverse effects of add/adhd meds and kids.

z3girl's picture

He already gets upset when his brother (who is 5) calls the pull ups diapers. He also gets upset if his brother calls him "Baby B" (his name starts with B). He gets upset when I set timers because he knows he is then accountable, but it looks like I will need to start the timer again since he refuses to go when simply asked.

I guess it's frustrating too because I certainly never pushed the potty training. I didn't even consider it until at least 2, and didn't push until past 3. I had 2 boys 11 months apart, and diapers were very easy. I finally started getting "angry" at him at 3 1/2 and he always just peed in his pants when I put him in underwear. For the longest time, he would only pee on the potty if he wasn't wearing anything at all.

I think the words I use most with him are "Don't put that in your mouth!" and "Go use the potty!". I feel like a broken record.

Unless a child is sick, I can't imagine the affects of any medication on a developing brain and body can be good. I would much rather try to work with him than put any chemicals in him. He's only matter how "bad" he is, I just can't imagine that's an option!

Cooooookies's picture

My son has have to peel him off the ceiling he is so hyper ADHD. He didn't want to poo on the potty either. Though he knew when he had to go because he'd go find a corner to squat down in and then poo in his pull-up,

I told him next time he did that, he'd have to change his own pull-up and clean himself up. Magic. He then went poo in the potty from then on. He hated the fact of having to touch anywhere near poo so it worked the first time.

Also, try having him sit on a toilet the other way around, with his face towards the lid. Some kids feel safer because it doesn't feel like they're going to fall in. Worked for my son as well, he sat like that for a good few years.

z3girl's picture

I'll see if he wants to sit the other way around.

Unfortunately, anything messy, including poop, doesn't bother my son. He is the messiest kid. The last time he tried to clean himself up, he pulled an entire roll of toilet paper off the roll, haphazardly wiped around simply smearing poo around the bathroom, and filled the toilet with paper. I found the bathroom with poo smeared all over the sink and the floor, and footprints of poop throughout the house, up into his room and on the ladder of his loft which is where I found him. If I had been a second later, it would have been in his bed as well. He wasn't upset about the mess, but worried about me being upset with him.

*sigh* I'm just so tired of poop!

moeilijk's picture

Ok, for the putting things in his mouth - one effective method of prevention is, well, prevention.

Basically, having him carry things in his hands or be singing/talking/chewing with his mouth means that he can't be putting things in his mouth as much. I don't know if that's feasible, but I sometimes do that with my own DD. Every now and then she'll put a finger in her mouth, and if it seems like she's not complying with me taking it out and saying, "We don't put fingers in our mouths," then I will grab a small toy or Duplo piece and give it to her. She doesn't seem to notice that now she's holding something. (Until the next time, lol.)

z3girl's picture

He puts things in his mouth, not his hands at all. He even will lick the glass door if the feeling strikes. He's looked at me, and suddenly licked my face! Anything soft with a foam type of material will have bites taken out of them, and any toy cars with rubber tires will be taken off and chewed in his mouth. I don't have to worry about my 18 month old putting things in his mouth the way this child does.

moeilijk's picture

He sounds really sensation-seeking. But not aware of sensation, in other ways (poop). I don't have experience with that.

There's a line between behaviour and compulsion, and it's basically drawn in the sand with on one side someone who can control themselves and the other side with someone who cannot. That's why CBT should help a lot, as it will teach your son some skills to give him more control over his behaviour. (And you!)

Also, with ADHD, I recently saw some advice on that - to really understand that the kid has input from sources we don't notice, and it's like listening to 50 radio stations at once. So you need to be the brightest, the best and the most interesting radio station to get his attention.

No one can do that for long, and it doesn't work if it's negative attention anyway.

You just have a challenging kid. Sounds like you'll do just fine though. You're very grounded.