We Got a Diagnosis for Our Child—Now What? ADHD, ODD, LDs and More—What a Diagnosis Means for Your Child

by James Lehman, MSW
We Got a Diagnosis for Our Child—Now What? ADHD, ODD, LDs and More—What a Diagnosis Means for Your Child

A diagnosis is an important piece of the puzzle we are trying to solve when we try to help kids with disabilities learn how to function. Many parents are relieved when they get a diagnosis for their acting-out, “problem child” because they see it as a guideline for the future. They think, “Now we’ll know what to do; this is it— we’ll finally get our child the help he needs.” The truth is that I’ve seen families go through the drudgery of doctors and diagnoses many times. I’ve worked with kids who had Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (A.D.H.D.), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and many others. I’ve also seen individual kids with five different diagnoses: every time they were hospitalized or went to a new therapist, they would get a new one. But sadly, in the end their parents were left with the fact that simply having a diagnosis didn’t necessarily mean they could get help improving their child’s behavior, or get them the skills they needed to learn how to function successfully.

"Believe me, the guy you’re working for at 7-11 doesn’t care if you have ADHD or not."

A diagnosis doesn’t mean that you are assured treatment for your child from which you will see change. A diagnosis doesn’t mean you’re going to get funding to help give your child the success he needs. And a diagnosis does not mean he’s going to get the services he really needs. Sadly, there are no guarantees. I’ve worked with many parents whose kids had been given multiple diagnoses, but their children were still punching holes in the wall, cursing them out and having meltdowns at home and in school.

So, What Does a Diagnosis Do For Your Child?

Special Education Funding: In the states where I’ve practiced, when your child gets a certain diagnosis, you can often access special education funding. The sad fact is that children with labels attract money; children without labels don’t attract any money. That should not be discounted, because money—the means to get the services that will help your child learn how to manage his life—is a big issue. Many schools and mental health agencies have huge financial difficulties, and children with special needs are competing to get the services they need.

Special education funding often depends on what the diagnosis is. If someone has a diagnosis of ADHD, for instance, they will attract special education funding if it interferes with the child’s education. But if somebody has a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, they usually won’t get any special education funding or services. This is because Conduct Disorder and ODD are behavioral issues, which can be determined not to specifically interfere with learning.

Medication for Your Child: Getting a diagnosis also can lead to a prescription for your child. With ADHD, in many cases medication can be very helpful. For OCD, medication is almost always indicated unless there are other medical concerns. But there is no medication that deals specifically with behavioral issues like ODD or Conduct Disorder, because again, these are cognitive in nature. Doctors may try different medications, including some anti-psychotics, but most often these behavioral disorders don’t respond to medication.

“Someone Finally Understands My Child’s Problem!” Many parents feel lost with their acting-out or learning disabled kids, as if nobody understands their child—or has a solution for them. Many times when you get a diagnosis, you feel as if somebody finally understands what’s going on, and that may very well be the case. Unfortunately, just because someone understands what’s going on, it doesn’t make your child more treatable. While the vehicle of treatment may change from diagnosis to diagnosis, the goal remains the same: to help that child acquire the skills he will need to function as an independent adult. He still needs to be held accountable for his actions.

Getting the diagnosis can affect funding and perhaps get your child a prescription, but it does little else. And parents who feel hopeful when they get that diagnosis have only won half the battle. The sad reality is that our current public and private mental health system do not yet possess the knowledge and theory base to effectively treat their child. I’m sure there has been success out there for many individual cases, but the families I’ve dealt with have experienced a lot of disappointment at the outcome of the treatment milieus they’ve been involved with.

1. A Diagnosis Does Not Relieve Your Child of Responsibility.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with saying, “My child behaves this way because he has ADHD.” Just know that does not relieve either the parent or the child of the responsibility of learning how to function appropriately. In other words, if you use the diagnosis as an excuse for not challenging your child’s behavior and not doing things that will promote change, I think you’re making a big mistake. Let’s face it, kids with OCD, ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and ODD are all going to become adults some day, and they’re going to need the skills to make it in the real world. Depending upon the diagnosis, when they turn 18 or 20 any funding that might be available stops. Unless your child has a severe Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a developmental disability, Schizophrenia or some other critical disability, there is no more money for him after he ages out of your health insurance or leaves school.

That is why it is imperative that your child gets the skills he needs to function in the real world as early as possible. Otherwise, success will be very difficult for him to attain in his life. Playing “Catch-up” is a really tough task for kids with behavioral disorders, and a significant number of them are never able to do it.

Let me put it this way: if you don’t know how to manage your feelings, manage your behavior, be productive, and respond to people in an appropriate way – if you don’t learn how to do that by age 18, that diagnosis doesn’t count anymore. Nobody cares. Believe me, the guy you’re working for at 7-11 doesn’t care if you have ADHD or not. He wants you to stock the shelves. And he wants you to do it with a nice attitude and a smile. If you’re not willing to do that, he will get somebody else who will. And I believe in the job market that’s coming, you’re going to have to be really skillful to maintain any kind of decent career. Kids who have disdain for fast food jobs are going to wind up seeking that kind of work just to survive.

It should also be understood that while the juvenile justice system tries to be flexible and understanding about learning disabilities or other disorders, after the age of 18, kids enter the adult correctional system. If you tell a judge the reason you broke into a car is because you have ADHD, he’s going to give you a dressing down you’ll never forget. While kids get a lot of flexibility, the fact is, adults aren’t able to hurt others, exploit others or do mean things and get away with it just because they had a learning disability or conduct disorder as a child. That is probably the rudest awakening I see teens with behavioral disorders go through. One month they’re in juvenile court running everyone around and playing games, and the next month they’re in county jail and nobody but their parents cares about them.

2. Don’t Use a Diagnosis to Make Excuses for Your Child.

Don't use a diagnosis to make excuse for your child; use a diagnosis to understand him. When you do this, you’ll be able to figure out a way to teach him how to function and how to perform effectively. Certainly, the way you deliver information to somebody with ADHD might be different from the way you deliver it to somebody who has ODD. While your tone may vary, know that both of these kids need the same information, because at 18 or at 20, they are going to have to meet the same expectations.

Let’s be very clear, there’s going to be no free lunch in our society anymore. So kids who aren’t making it are going to be homeless or they’re going to be living in your home. And not only that, their behavior won’t have changed. They’re still going to be demanding, lazy, self-centered and domineering. You’ll constantly hear them making excuses, blaming others and playing the victim. What they won’t do is change on their own.

3. With or Without a Diagnosis, Your Child Needs Skills.

It is very important that parents understand that no matter what the diagnosis is, these kids have to have a bundle of skills if they’re going to make it in the adult world. A diagnosis can help indicate how we deliver those skills to them. So for the girl who has ADHD, the boy who has Conduct Disorder, the teen who has OCD, they all are still going to have to work and support themselves. That’s simply the reality of the situation: that is the way of the world.

If you make excuses for your child by saying “That’s the diagnosis talking” and if you don’t take any action to get him the skills he needs—and demand that he learns them—you’re giving up. And by the way, giving up is very easy to do. I’m not judging parents, by any means. These kids are overwhelming, and families do give up because they get exhausted. But understand this: these kids still need to get those skills. If they don’t, there’s a good chance they’re going to end up living with you into adulthood, be out on the streets, or in a correctional institution.

4. Kids with Learning or Behavioral Disabilities Need Training the Most, but They’re the Ones Who Get it the Least.

Let’s look at the diagnosis from the child’s perspective. My son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as a kid. We worked with the school, but he still always felt “less than” the other children. Understand that at the core of these kids with behavior problems or learning disabilities, they’re angry. They’re ashamed of themselves and they feel like they’re damaged goods. And that just makes them feel more hopeless, which triggers more acting-out. Their perspective on their diagnosis is, “There’s something wrong with me.” That’s why they’re always making excuses, blaming others, and saying, “It’s not me, it’s them.” In this way, they defend themselves from the feelings of shame and anger. They see that the other kids can meet their responsibilities and they know they can’t—or won’t. They see the other kids getting along socially, and they know they don’t get along with anybody. They have a big denial mechanism that neutralizes those thoughts, and many of them end up walking around in their own little self-centered world, acting out and becoming more and more destructive.

In my opinion, if any child needs to learn how to manage their behavior effectively, it is a kid with learning or behavioral disabilities. In fact, they need it more than the other kids who are successfully learning how to do it as they develop. When a child has a learning or behavioral disability, he needs to work harder to be prepared for adulthood. Unfortunately, these kids are the ones that need training the most, but they’re the ones who get it the least.

I used to work with kids in a youth correctional center. Many of them had a lot of learning disabilities. Very few of those youth were what would be considered “normal” school kids. They all had a diagnosis of something like ADD, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Conduct Disorder, which becomes criminalized when you get into your late teens or even mid-teens. These are the kids – the kids with untreated ADHD, untreated ODD, and Conduct Disorder—who start doing criminal things in adolescence. And if they don’t learn how to manage themselves effectively somewhere along the way, they get lost in the correctional system. Or they become lost in lives of substance abuse because it gives them a release from the pain of not being able to function. So you often see a high percentage of drug addiction and alcoholism amongst these children. And you see a high percentage of people in prison who have learning disabilities. Many, many inmates can’t write and read, and thousands and thousands of people get their GEDs in prison while they’re doing time.

5. To Medicate or Not to Medicate?

My view on medication is that it’s up to the parent to decide what’s best for the child. I urge parents to go into it with an open mind, to weigh out the benefits and the risks. Try to determine ahead of time how you will know if the medication is working or not working, within a proscribed period of time. So it’s not only “Put my daughter or son on medication,” it’s “If we put them on it and it works, what will we see in 4 weeks?” Conversely, ask yourself, “How will we know it’s not working and what will we do?” Parents should be informed consumers of the information regarding what medication their kids are using, and what the therapist hopes to accomplish.

Medication can be over-prescribed. I’ve seen kids on three or four very powerful prescriptions, and unless you have a good doctor who is monitoring everything very closely, know that many of these drugs can be harmful to the liver and kidneys. It’s important that you keep your child’s pediatrician informed of the meds he’s on. That being said, I think medication should be tried if you and your pediatrician determine that it might be helpful, and after a thorough screening and examination. Also, I think that medication should only be prescribed by a child and/or adolescent psychiatrist. Only they have the firsthand knowledge of how these very complex chemicals interact with other chemicals in the brain. I don’t think pediatricians or nurse practitioners or any other professionals who have the right to prescribe should be dispensing psychotropic medication for children.

Personally, I think it’s often worth it to take a chance with medication, if the drugs can support your child’s ability to self-manage sufficiently so he can learn the skills he’ll need. Don’t forget, all these methods we’ve been talking about are different vehicles that work to get information to our kids on how to behave and learn to grow up. They are all, in effect, “service delivery vehicles”. The service is that we’re getting our kids to behave and get some necessary life skills. Medication, special education, therapy, The Total Transformation Program, books and other resources are all examples, different ways to deliver the service of independent functioning to our children. Make no bones about it, as a parent, you need to be proactive and search out the best method for your child, in order to help him function in the grown up world.

I believe these kids can change, and that the process of change works best when it starts at home. I've worked with acting-out children for thirty years, and I’ve found that if there’s a culture of accountability at home or in school, it enhances these kids' potential to respond. Real change does occur, but it takes a lot of work and sacrifice on the parts of all the adults involved. I’ll tell you what I’ve told many parents in my office: “It doesn’t end with the diagnosis, it just starts there.”

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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."


I think this is great. I been waiting for something like this because when I tell the school and Dr.that my 10yr. old son should be held accountable at school for his out of control and distructive behaviors they say, well he doesn't always act this way we know he can do better.He can be so cute and so helpful to the other students when he's on his game. At home he is held accountable which means his anger becomes harmful or distructive towards his family and we get frustrated because he needs consequences from every side. I do believe my child has a chance and this article just reinforced it in our minds that he can function in the real world with the right teachings towards life. Also as parents we need to step up and read everything availible for us. As parents it's our job to make sure we learn everything we can to help them succeed in life. Nobody will love your child like you do.

Comment By : patty

I am a special ed counselor and work exclusively with LD and ED kids. They really need skills as this article states! However, they cannot be readily sustained if there is not lots of parental support for the child to be accountable for his/her behaviors.

Comment By : Belle

i am a parent of adhd child. i've been working with him day and night.if i would rely on the schools help it would be a disaster. we are alway ahead of the school work. i tought him how to read and write not the school. unfortunately it's all up to parents.

Comment By : gina

Oh my gosh, did I ever need to read this! My teenage daughter was diagnosed 18 months ago (at age 15) with OCD. She is on medication, which has helped relieve the anxiety associated with the OCD, but she refuses to participate any longer in therapy. I know that she will never get this under control enough to function well in life without taking the therapy seriously. I've been trying so hard to keep her to the same standards that I would expect of any 16 year old, but it is so hard and I've struggled so much with where to draw the line between being sympathetic of her problem and expecting her to function like a normal 16 year old. Our struggles are many as this affects every facet of her life (and mine!!) It is maddening for me, to say the least - I am a single mother who works full-time. I want my intelligent daughter to function well in this world, but I am really struggling with being a 'tough' enough parent with this 'diagnosis' hanging over our head! I find myself really worrying about her future...I would love to hear from other parents who have a child with OCD and would be interested to know how you handle things?

Comment By : Carol

I am also a parent of an adhd child. The school does work with me, however, to a point. I think they are too interested in getting conformity. They keep telling me he has a focus problem and that he I should consider meds, but I feel he does not need it, they just don't want to go the extra step and work with the disorder, instead they make it harder for themselves and work against it with their stubborness to 'need' conformity.

Comment By : Hank's mom

This article was absolutly "dead on". My son, now 11, was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago. Initially I saw very little improvement although he was put on medication. I also used his ADHD to excuse his shortcomings and made concessions for his behavior. After begining the James Lehman program, I now hold him accountable for his behavior and have made it very clear to him that despite his ADHD, he is responsible for behavor and actions. It has paid off :) I am pleased to state his teacher has informed me my son is a very bright child, has drastically improved academically and is becoming very popular among his peers. It has taken and continues to take a lot of hard work and consistency but well worth the effort.

Comment By : chickimama222

My daughter is 12 and has been diagnoised with ODD and Mood disorders, The school works very well from the teachers to the school nurse they are aware of the problems academically she is treated different to get the most out of her she is given extra time and given test verbally but, socially she is treated as any other student and if she cannot behave and is disruptive with others she is reprimanded for it.

Comment By : msmishy

This article was also really dead on for me. My 13 yr old son was recently diagnosed with ADHD I for many years had been told that his behavior would only worsen as his school yrs progressed. I was very hesitant to put him on medication. He has been on medication for about one month and has made a change. Only the school was quick to kick him out and not at all helpful or willing to stand by and give the medication a chance. I understand as well as my son that it is not a "magic" pill and he must take responsibility for his actions. So he is currently awaiting a "appeal for his expulsion". I have learned that many schools are not willing to go the extra step or give you vital information that you as a parent must research yourself... Parents know yours and your childs rights.

Comment By : momknowsbest

I worry since a friend told me that if your child is "labeled" needing special ed. help for ADD, ODD it will follow them, if he tries to get into Annapolis for example later on. It also excludes them from gifted programs, so now I'm thinking of enduring the inevitable torture of homeschooling, to avoid the ramifications of labeling.

Comment By : psm

If you have a child who is ODD the problems will only intensify if they are not taken care of in school, they need the extra time and the extra help in school that the teachers have been taught to understand. My daughter even with being on meds still has outburst at times and with the teachers knowing the problems they know how to handle them.

Comment By : msmishy011

This article hits home with me -- as we are in the process of getting that "diagnosis". Regardless of what the actual diagnosis is, the way I've been looking at it, my son is learning social and emotional skills like someone else might learn to play the piano. It's taking patience, perseverence, and lots of practice! Unfortunately, unlike piano lessons, these "life lessons" are not optional!

Comment By : Linda

i have a 14 year old son diagnosed with adhd. he was kicked out of a private school in the 3rd grade. i placed him in the public school system and have played the medication games and the meeting with teachers. now in the 8th grade he has still never learned to control his impulsive behavior. he is in trouble with the middle school and close to being expelled. i met with teachers and administration to have an iep plan...they have refused. all of the write-ups by teachers are mainly because of excessive talking and out of his seat. the same behavior he was doing in the 3rd grade. he also has been in counseling since the 3rd grade. nothing seems to help this child. he has been given punishment that he seems to forget when he acts up. i am at a loss of what to do. i have just bought the program from james leman i hope this will help. any suggestions will be appreciated. i am also going to fight the school for an iep.

Comment By : davey\'s mom

We bought the Total Transformation Program for our son about 3 yrs ago. At that time he was 7 yrs old. It is an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING program!!! It is SUPER easy to follow & he gives you a ton of tools to use with your children. I listen to it over & over again & each time get something new out of it, depending on what stages the kids are in. It helped us with are 7 yr old & all the way up to our 18 yr old daughter. Since we have had this we have also been able to help many of our friends with advise for their families too. Thank you soooo much. We are now purchasing the Total Focus program too in faith that it will help us with our son (10 yrs old) & his ADHD.

Comment By : kelly

I have to say everything that i have read is so interesting that i stayed up all night reading these articles are 5 stars as for me i see things a bit diferent i just hope that i can get through to my daughter she is tough and again thank you for all the advise keep it coming

Comment By : mother of kimee

James, Just wondering if a piece can be done on IEPS and college admissions. The positive and negative side to an IEP, from peers to academics. Thanks, love your stuff.

Comment By : ConsMom

I wanted to say thanks for the honest and sigh of relief comments...im a mum of 4 here in the uk and aways understood my son to be differant..if labled he would have the ODD label for sure...ive never had any support from schools,although several reqests for trying to understand my sons very abusive and challanging behaviour. since the age of 2 I new he was differant..on with paranting him...with no support over the years ,I have felt every negative emotion there is ,coupled with frustration,anger and helplessness, feelings of inadaqacy as a mother..but as a intuative therapist and counsellor, I joruney onwards..he has been the challange of my life and he has taught me very valuable skills in tollarance and understanding..with that said it has been a hard struggle to understand..my jouney has led me to realise that holistic help with food and chemical substances can and do play a huge role in the outcome of behaviour..and these sensative kids are primarily affected. so where ever possible lets remember we are what we eat and try as you might to eat a healthy diet. also if you can get tested for sensativaties to food..sugar being the most culprit in my sons case..if he overloads slightly he is completly non-complying despite his denial and all your fault attitude and often agressive outbursts.he is 15 now and although difficult and challanging to all peers and school..I have complete faith he will do ok..as i do see this in him on rare glimses..he is very intellegant and capable and with support and safe boundries..he gonna be ok..I wish to add over the years it has resultied in me with very low esteem and lack confidance due to constant challanges to which, I encourage any parent or support worker to keep on top of as any weakness is food to these kids and i find hynosis on Cd or Mp3 very theraputic to keep it real when things are looking lost..they help me at least.Remeber people that your self esteem and confidance to succed is in-po-tant. Great work Mr Lehman

Comment By : Gaye

As parents,we ran out of steam when our son was 10. We tried locking up the sugar and sweets, and nutritional therapy...rewards, consequences, multiple programs and nothing worked. Honestly, we were on the edge of giving up our son to foster care because his behaviour was so horrible. There is very little he hasn't picked at, or picked apart, put holes in, etc. We finally gave in and put him on medication. It has had a dramatic effect. He is not a zombie, which is what we were afraid of. He is doing excellent in school. Every once in awhile he'll act out, but it's not a meeting with the principle every month now. He's doing much better with peers, and is in basketball and making great strides. He still picks at things, and compusively lies, but he is far less defiant. His medication wears off each evening around 5 or 6. His handwriting is beautiful at school. His evening handwriting is unreadable. The difference literally IS night and day. I would encourage any parent struggling with the decision on medication to consult their child's pediatrician. There are some drugs out there that are safer than years ago. I like the fact that our son is NOT on medicatin that we have to wean him off of. In fact, if we want to skip a dose or a weekend, it would be ok to do that. We are sorry we DIDN'T get our son on medication earlier, as it is apparent that he would have learned more appropriate behaviors and habits at a younger age. It is more difficult now. He will be 12 in the fall, and will be going to a new school. I have great hope for him now. I just wish we would have gotten more information on current medications sooner.

Comment By : Basketball Mom

To PSM - ADD will not prevent your child from being in a gifted program if (s)he is gifted. My daughter is in GATE and Mensa, but she needed an IEP for school due to her ADD (even then, some of the teachers were not very supportive--some "didn't believe in ADD."). I found that medication worked well, until she couldn't sleep and lost her appetite (side effects of stimulant meds--and the non-stimulant meds didn't work). We're trying them again now that she's older.

Comment By : Meg's Mom

I wanted to be informed prior to the completion of evaluation by neurologist. Thanks for such an informative article which has helped my confidence in preparation for possible diagnosis. I am a strong believer in accountability at school and home. Both homes, if parents are divorced. Article was so right about stating that it takes hard work and sacrifice of parents. This is all true for parenting in general, but more so for parenting children of divorced parents or parenting stepchildren. Thanks again.

Comment By : Alicia O.

You said the kids with behavioral issues, ODD etc. are Angry, so are they born this way? and why are they so Angry? How do I help them defuse this? I have a 22yr old ADD son and a 7yr old daughter who is ADHD and her IEP says ODD, my EX - the kids dad pasted away 9 months after our divorce 12/08 so there are still lingering issues and I know that is where some of her Anger is part of the grieving process - the mother always gets it, lol, I bought the TotalTransformation kit abotu 5 yrs ago when y son was in high school I have listened to its entirety twice, and I am currently readed Transforming the Difficult child thank you

Comment By : Over40singlemom

* To ‘Over40singlemom’: Thank you for your question. I think what James meant is that kids with diagnoses are often angry because of the challenges they face—feeling “less than” or like “damaged goods” as James says. The way to help any angry child is to teach them the skills they need to cope with and express anger more appropriately. You can do this by having problem solving discussions with your son at times when things are relatively calm. We suggest reviewing lessons 3, 6, and 7 of the Total Transformation Program. To really give you the best advice possible, we need to know a little bit more about your relationship, how your son responds to you and what you have tried in the past. I would encourage you to call the Support Line and talk to one of the advisors. That phone number is included in your package material. We are open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time. We look forward to hearing from you and being able to come up with solutions together. Take care.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

I would totally love to buy the total transformation program but the truth is that I am on public assistance and can not afford it. I am a single mom 50 yrs old my son is 7 and diagonosed with ADHD, ODD, and traits of Aspbergers syndrome. His school works with me to a certain degree but he is still in perimeters which make it hard to get the things he needs (preventative medicine) I do have him in theraphy at the current time and he is also on medication. I recieve the newsletter and that has been very helpful but I really would like to get the program. I really want to deal with this while he is still young, I want to try and avoid if possible issues as he gets older. I would like for both of us to have the tools we need so that he can be the best he can be. At times I get overwhelmed with all that is involved to get the help we need. It is a real shame that the schools that have some of the tools available tell parents to get them. I've been with the child study team twice already and have another meeting coming up, which I want to bring the therapist to. This is all new to me and I am doing what I can to get the information I need to help my son and the newsletter has been very helpful and hopefully I will be able to get the program. Thank You

Comment By : 2greeneyes

I just found out and I am devastated. Her teacher doesn't know how to handle her and I try my hardest to help her with her homework but, I am devastated. Its her dad's fault. He has ADHD and he passed it on to my child.He is not in her life but yet he keeps affecting my child even though he's not here. I feel like crying.

Comment By : Taylor\'s mom

I just found out that my two little girls 6 and 7 both have ADHD. I have always had so much trouble in the past with school and homework and daily life. I thought it was me doing something wrong as a parent for a long time. When my little one started school she got a very nasty teacher that didnt think anything about ADHD, all she could see was that my child was a trouble maker, the worst kid in the classroom. Which was quoted directly from the teacher. I would come home everyday and cry and hold my babies. Couldnt figure it out. Then i was bold and decided to move her out of the classroom and put with another teacher. This teacher has been awesome. She introduced me into the ADHD world. They have started meds now and we will see going forward.

Comment By : Tiffany\'s mom

My 10 year old son has been diagnosed with ADHD and possibly ODD. He has been on the receiving end of verbal bullying for quite some time at school and does not alway react agressively, however when he does it is severe. He is also not a small child and as a result the child that originally started the incident ends up being hurt and my child being dragged off to the headmaster's office. he has therefore been labled the bully. Numerous conversations with teachers explaining that he is being medicated as well as requests to the teachers to assist us has not paid off. When asked whether the other children's parents have been called in after these incidents the feedback is that they have no proof of the other child's actions. I am trying my best to address the problems I know my child has, but I receiv no or little support from the school. What is my best course of action?

Comment By : MS

* To “MS”: It can be so heartbreaking to see your son experience bullying at school and to feel unsupported in getting the situation to improve. I can hear how much you want to help your son through this challenge. From your comment, it seems his lashing out may be an indication of him having low frustration tolerance and limited coping skills for dealing with frustration and anger. It’s understandable he would feel angry; most children would in his situation. We would suggest focusing on helping your son to develop better problem solving or coping skills. Make time to sit down and talk with him when there has been an incident at school; encourage him to come up with more appropriate ways of dealing with the anger and frustration. There is a great article that addresses how to problem solve with your child. You can access it by clicking this link: The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems.” Depending on the situation, it may also be appropriate to hold your son accountable for his acting out behavior, either through a consequence or an amends. It may also be of help to document the times your son describes incidents where he is being teased or taunted by the other children. This behavior isn’t OK. If you don’t feel the school is taking these matters seriously, you may need to bring it to the attention of the school board or superintendent. Here is a website specifically aimed at helping parents deal with bullying issues: www.stopbullying.gov. You can find a great deal of useful information around how to address your situation. Since your son has a diagnosis, you can consider contacting the Special Services or Special Education department of your school or district. They might be able to offer some additional support at school to help your son develop the necessary skills for dealing with this behavior. We wish you and your family success as you address this challenging behavior. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

This article is dead on! We received a diagnosis of our son as an Asperger child and we were left with now what? I don't believe in making excuses but preparing him for a bright future. There's so many positive things about Aspergers that can be accentuated. Which is why we homeschool, and no, it is not torture, it is a blessing!

Comment By : AngelMommy

My son is 11 years old. he has been diagnose with ADHD. It is s hard to understand his moods, decisions, needs and likes. He has never stayed in any activities for ln=ong. Lately accademically he is droping and hefinds lessons hard and difficult. He is distracted in class, start disturbing others by talking all the time. He has bome rebelius at home and shout ut lound when his demands are not met. I tried coping wih hime by repeating all the time. He is irresponsible,dont take time to dom things, andhe has difficulty in consentrating for long. im starting to lose controland his father simply dont unserstand him. what mre can i do?

Comment By : vero

* To vero: It sounds like you are feeling frustrated, confused and overwhelmed with your son’s behavior. That is a spot where no parent wants to find themselves. As mentioned in "My Child's Behavior Is So Bad, Where Do I Begin?" How to Coach Your Child Forward , it might be helpful for you to focus on one or two behaviors he displays at home to keep from feeling so lost when addressing his behavior. For example, you might choose to focus on his doing things the first time you ask him. We recommend having a problem-solving conversation with him about what he is going to do to help himself do things the first time he is asked. We find that incentive charts, where he can earn a small reward for practicing the new behavior, can be very effective for helping kids learn more appropriate ways of behaving. Here is a helpful article which talks about using behavior charts: Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Behavior Charts Effectively Good luck to you and your family as you continue to address these issues.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

How do I get my child diagnosed please help do I call pediatrician or psychiatrist

Comment By : Lovenia F

* To Lovenia F: Thank you for writing in and asking a great question. There are a few different options you could look into for getting your child evaluated. It can be helpful to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider. Let the doctor know what your concerns are and he or she should be able to determine if a referral needs to be made. If your child is having issues in school, you can contact the Special Education or Special Services department in your school district and talk with them about types of testing they may be able to conduct. It may be necessary to make a referral to Special Education in order for the assessments to be conducted. Someone in your district can answer any questions you may have around this process. You may also be able to contact a testing service in your area and inquire about having evaluations done. You can contact the 211 National Helpline at 1-800-273-6222, or online at 211.org, and ask about testing services in your area. We hope this information is helpful for your situation. Good luck to you and your family. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

Excellent points! I have worked both in special ed and with developmentally disabled individuals for many years. I am also the mom of a young adult with Asperger's Syndrome. I believe this article should be standard reading to all parents who have kids with "difficult" diagnoses. We are all in this together! It's been said over and over again, it takes a village...

Comment By : bzzykaz

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ADHD, ODD, Diagnosis, Child, Children, Oppositional, Defiant, Disorder, Attention, Deficit, Hyperactive

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