Parenting a Kid with ADHD: Medication or Parent Support Group?

Posted June 1, 2015 by

Yesterday, I decided that I am going to start my own support group for parents who think they are not doing a good job. I used to think that being in a successful adult relationship was the hardest thing in the world, but I have changed my mind. Being a good parent to a challenging child is the hardest job I will ever have—and I am not using the term “challenging” loosely.

Recently, I received professional confirmation of something I have intuitively known for most of my daughter’s life: she has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) with Oppositionality, meaning she likes to argue—about everything. As a parent, I have been reluctant to write about this because I want to protect my daughter. I am realizing, though, that I really need a support group because frankly, being a single mom to a challenging child on a daily basis is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I imagine if you are the parent—single or not—of a challenging child, you probably feel this way, too.

Even if you are a mom or dad with an “average” challenging child (meaning one who has not been diagnosed with any type of disorder), my guess is that you know a child who: has trouble focusing; argues that it isn’t really raining; rolls her eyes when reprimanded for doing something she shouldn’t; or generally asks “why?” all the time, no matter what her parent tells her. For all of you who can relate, I feel your pain; and that’s why I have now decided to write about my own child. If you comment on this article, then essentially, I am creating my own support group and that will help me, too.

My Dilemma
Assuming you want to be part of my support group, here is my problem: when a doctor or psychologist says, “Your kid has ADHD,” usually the next thing out of his or her mouth is, “We can fix that with medication.” I have heard this recommendation several times and I can’t help thinking, “For my kid or for me?” I never actually say those words out loud. Some days, though, it seems to come to that—which one of us is going to be medicated so we can both deal with this more effectively and incur minimal damage? I realize my kid will probably end up in therapy, and I am not worried about that. In fact, I believe everyone needs therapy at some point in life. At least once.

Unwarranted Blame and Guilt Gets Me Every Time
The professional who diagnoses your child focuses on helping your child. That’s a good thing, but what about focusing on how to help you manage your child? What about telling you, the mom or dad, that you really are a good parent and it’s not your fault your kid has improperly functioning neurotransmitters or extremely low levels of dopamine in his system (both common factors in kids with ADD/ADHD)?

The problem is, I don’t think of these neurological factors when my daughter is arguing with me or bouncing off the walls at Target, begging me for a new lunchbox and on the verge of a temper tantrum that would be perfectly normal if she were two-years-old, but she is eight. When things like this happen, I never think, “Oh, it’s her ADHD.” My internal voice says instead, “What am I doing wrong here? Why is it that she doesn’t understand? Why doesn’t she want to be a well-behaved child? How did I become such a bad parent?”

Since my daughter was two, well-meaning friends and family members have advised, “She’s only two. She will grow out of it. It’s just a phase.” Then, when she was four, the same well-intended advisors would say, “You’ve got to get this behavior under control or things are gonna be really difficult when she is a teenager.”

Yes, I am quite aware of this. People are still telling me this because now my daughter is eight and even closer to becoming a teenager with out-of-control hormones and peer pressure and a zillion other factors that will potentially make both our lives even more challenging and difficult. I know this. I get it. I am doing everything I can to help my kid—except medicating her.

The Pressure to Medicate
What if you are the parent of an ADD/ADHD kid and you don’t believe in medicating him? What if you are changing your child’s diet based on food sensitivity tests; teaching your kid how to meditate and other effective anger/self-control management techniques, and you just don’t think giving him chemical substances with long term side effects makes sense? How do you help your child holistically, essentially going against mainstream society?

I recently read that parenting a child with ADD/ADHD is like “parenting times five.” That would explain why I am continually amazed and impressed by any parent who can manage multiple kids at the same time when I seem to be at capacity with just one. So, I will continue to research holistic options and treatment for children like mine and yours. Maybe we can figure this out together. At the very least, we will hopefully come to realize that we are not alone in our struggles.

About

Writer, graphic designer, and mother to one little girl and one very large dog, Karla is a native New Yorker who traded in her downhill skis for flip-flops when she was transplanted to the South in 2003. She has a master's degree in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University, with a certificate in Conflict Management and a focus on Interpersonal Relationships. In the past, Karla worked as a family mediator for New York State. She loves to help her family and friends improve their interpersonal relationships and attempts to apply that expertise to her own life, every day. Whenever you need to add some humor to your day, you can visit her website at: www.myhighmaintenancelife.com

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  1. vicmar85 (Edit) Report

    It is great to hear when others have similar feelings! It’s hard when you feel alone parenting an adhd child. And extremely hard to find a group that would “fit” to what I am feeling.

    Reply
  2. Beth M (Edit) Report

    Thank you for your honesty! I can relate and add that I’m parenting (trying to anyways) two boys with focus issues. We tried medication for about 1 year several years ago. None of us liked what it did to them. We’ve been going homeopathic, whole foods, exercise, meditation/yoga for 3 years now. For the most part it’s helped, especially since I opted to add homeschooling 2 years ago. My 16 year old is doing much better, even taking college class. My 14 year is more like your daughter. ..lots of drama, arguing, etc. He is quick to fall off the healthy eating wagon with just a few pieces of candy from his friend. I would really appreciate a support group with like-minded parents!

    Reply
  3. SandyCN (Edit) Report

    I can totally relate to all that you wrote. I have a nine year old boy that was diagnosed with ADHD with a concomitant impulsivity disorder. Every day presents its challenges. “Parenting times five” is exactly right! While I know that medication would greatly alleviate some of our issues, we are not willing to go that route….yet. I dream about quieter, calmer days, but not at the expense of medicating my son. We are trying mindfulness meditations, social groups, changing diet (difficult with a picky eater), and perhaps I will try a support group! Thanks for your post. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone, even when it sometimes feels that way.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      SandyCN Thanks so much for reading, Sandy, and for your comments. It’s hard not to feel alone when you’re going through it – I totally understand that! I am still hoping to start an online support group/blog so we can all feel connected. While it is always a personal choice, kudos to you for sticking it out with meditations, diet, etc. Natural supplements and dance classes have been helpful for us, too. Best wishes to you and your family.

      Reply
  4. paisana57 Report

    So what I’m saying Karla is sometimes medication IS necessary. What are your concerns with medication for ADD/ADHD? Believe me I’ve been there done that but I was also hesitant about starting my daughter on medication at one time but I’m glad I did. Medication can make a world of difference for some.

    Reply
  5. paisana57 Report

    Karla, I value your sharing about the challenges you have with your daughter. I have to say that you are not alone, for your story is nearly identical to not only mine, but to many other parents as well. I knew our youngest had ADD/ADHD from the time she could walk. The reason we were so sure was because our first daughterhas ADD/ADHD too.We had waited until our first one was in junior high before having her tested. I kept thinking that maybe it was something we were or were not doing right as parents, although our ‘gut’ said something wasn’t right. She was spacey, inattentive, extremely disorganized, anxious and she was struggling just to maintain a C average. So when it came to our second daughter, we recognized early on her ADD/ADHD. She was also oppositional & defiant. This was more draining than we could have ever imagined. We noticed a huge change when she turned 8 or 9…her defiance and opposition spiked and it would wax and wane in severity. I started making notes of her behavior in my calendar and low and behold, these spikes were cyclical…similar to a menstrual cycle. Yes, these girls start ‘cycling’ hormonally way before they start their periods. This is something for parents with girls, to keep in mind. Both my girls have PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)–in other words, they get wicked PMS symptoms that go way beyond ordinary PMS. Their ADD/ADHD symptoms become significantly worse when they are PMSing!  Some thought on the issue of medicating vs not medicating. After much hesitation on our part to start our FIRST daughter on medication, we finally decided to give it a trial and the difference was utterly amazing!  She went from hours and hours of tearfully dragging herself through homework, to completing her homework in a normal amount of time. Her grades went C’s to straight A’s and she graduated with honors from high school; later, she graduated from college magna cum lade with a master’s degree.  Now for the story behind our second daughter.. We started her on medication around the age of 8 and she seemed to have difficulty tolerating the medication,. She became irritable later in the day when the medication was wearing off.. Although she gained some improvement in the area of sustained attention and impulse control, she never had the drastic improvement like our first daughter. Each day was a fight for her to take the medication–her regular opposition was a big part of this. Thus began a long trial  of new medications and varying dosages and eventually we found a combo where she had no irritability. But she continued to complain about having to take medication and said she was having ‘side effects’; her complaints were non-specific and we did not observe any side effects. In her sophmore year of HS, she announced that she would no longer take the ADD medication and was also unwilling to pursue any type of help for her disorganization and inattention. Although we did not agree that she should stop the medication, it was her choice. We were no longer willing to fight with her everyday to take it–we were exhausted from the battles. Her inattention worsened and she started to fail most of her classes. Her oppositionan/defiance continued to escalate.  We suggested she pursue an ADD medication therapy again and/or behavioral therapy, but she refused. The rest of high school was a day by day challenge. If it wasn’t her grades, it was failed friendships or girl drama. Her behavior was becoming out of control. She managed to graduate last June, by the seat of her pants!  Unfortunately, she has found a new way to help herself: self-medication. I truly believe that if she had stayed the course with pursuing the right ADD medication, she would probably not be self-medicating now. She struggles with coping skills (weed is her ‘coping’ skill). Many people who turn to drugs and alcohol do so in order to self-medicate. ADD/ADHD makes one feel different and their self-esteem often suffers as a result. So please don’t discount medication for your daughter. In the case of our first daughter, the difference as a result of ADD/ADHD meds was shocking. It was not only an eye opener to me about the benefits of ADD meds but it made a believer out of me about it’s great value for many. Our oldest is now in her late 20’s now and she still takes her ADD/ADHD meds because her job is demanding She’s well adjusted, successful and has a strong self-esteem. Your daughter may need ADD/ADHD medication at some point. It really is not unlike a diabetic needing insulin or an asthmatic needing an inhaler. No amount of therapy will overcome diabetes or asthma because these conditions require medication. It is the same thing with ADD/ADHD..

    Reply
    • karla Report

      catbee Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your story. It is never an easy road. I have many concerns for my daughter as she continues to get older and faces more pressures from school and friends. Right now, we are having very good success with supplements – specifically one called, Adrenal Support,  and Vitamin C. After extensive neurotransmitter/food sensitivity/hormone testing with our healthcare provider, this was deemed to be the best combination of supplements to help my daughter focus. We have seen a great reduction in her hyperactivity, too. She still struggles with staying on task sometimes, but her behavior has greatly improved. 

      My fear of medication – although, as I have said, every parent must make the decision that is truly best for his/her child and family and I fully respect those decisions – is the potential longterm harmful side effects. How will it affect her as an adult? Since we are having success with supplements and diet, we will continue that path. I am open and aware that as she grows and matures, our approach may have to change. And, at that point, I’ll continue to explore all the options.

      Wishing you the best for both of your daughters.

      Reply
  6. ChristinaFields (Edit) Report

    Hi Karla, 
    My daughter is 11, diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5 after her kindergarten teacher noticed she daydreamed all day long.  It was super difficult for me to accept this diagnosis, as her grades were good, she did not cause trouble at school, and there was no clinical test performed to definitively determine ADHD was her true issue.  We tried diets, we tried supplements, we tried Chiropractic care, and reluctantly we decided to medicate.  For 5 years we attempted to find the “right” medication, as everyone she was put on did not seem to help her in the least bit.  Just this past spring, a friend of mine posted on FB about a “genesite” test she had done for her son to figure out the medication regimen for his ADHD.  I questioned her about it and googled it, and then talked to our pediatrician. Turns out all 5 years she was medicated, she was never on a medication that worked with her genetic make-up and that is why her medication did not have any effect on her behavior, only tons of side-effects.  If you do ever decide to medicate  (and I caution you to only use medication as a last resort!) please look into genesite testing to make sure she is put onto the right medication to start with.  The guessing game doctors do seems rather unnecessary when this test is not available.
    As to your comment about who should be medicated, I can totally relate to that as well! I often think to myself, “if I could just keep myself calm and not react to her shenanigans these issues would not get so out of hand”.  I honestly think when a child is diagnosed with ADHD the first that should happen should be the parents be entered into a parenting course for children with ADHD. Not because we are bad parents to start with, but to help the parents cope with raising a child with ADHD. There is nothing wrong with these children really, they just need more patience and understanding than their non-ADHD counter parts. We live in a society that makes any sort of neurological diagnosis a bad thing.  Sure it makes life more complicated, but if live was easy it would be boring, so I say these children make live interesting!  I certainly could use some advise on getting an ADHD child motivated to complete homework and pay attention in class though. We are on our 2nd year of 5th grade here and it seems more challenging the 2nd time around.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      ChristinaFields Thank you so much for reading Christina, and sharing your story! It always amazes me to hear how doctors play that guessing game with medication, as you noted. I have heard similar stories from other parents who are always “adjusting” their child’s medication. I agree with you wholeheartedly about some kind of class for parents of kids with ADHD or any other neurological diagnosis. It is only through experience and LOTS of trial and error over the years that I have come to understand exactly what you said: “they just need more patience and understanding” than many other kids. If only I had realized that much sooner! Even today, as my daughter is 9, I have to continually remind myself to use my “advanced” parenting skills when she is acting defiant or unfocused or challenging me in yet another way I wasn’t prepared for. I often remind myself that I am learning valuable lessons in patience (that I never knew I was capable of) from my daughter. So, I try to remember that being her parent is actually contributing in a very positive way to my own personal growth. One of the many challenges is for me to remember that precisely when she is pushing the limits of  my patience! Best wishes to you and your family and your daughter’s continued success on her unique path.

      Reply
  7. kellymiller9900 (Edit) Report

    Medications for ADHD may help your child concentrate better or sit still, at least in the short term. But to date, there is little evidence that they improve school achievement, relationships, or behavioral issues over the long term. Behavior therapy helps parents to develop a plan to improve child’s behavior. When a child becomes too unruly or loses control, families can use “time out” by having the child sit alone quietly for a short time to calm down. Therapists can help parents find ways to spend fun and relaxing time with their child. They can also help parents find opportunities to praise their child for appropriate behavior.
    I had worked for a special needs school and found that behavior therapy works well for ADHD children. Behavior therapy is based on several simple and sensible notions about what leads children to behave in socially appropriate ways. Many of the children at school generally want to please their parents and feel good about themselves when their parents are proud of them. A positive relation between children and parents is an important source of motivation. 
    The goal of behavior therapy is to increase the frequency of desirable behavior by increasing the child’s interest in pleasing parents.
    Kelly Miller
    Retired Special Education Teacher

    Reply
    • paisana57 Report

      kellymiller9900 Hi Kelly, I have to say I disagree with you about there not being any evidence that ADD meds improve school achievements–just ask parents who have witnessed this first hand…like with our first daughter. Behavioral issues do not always accompany ADD/ADHD. A combination of medication AND behavioral therapy can be helpful when treating ADD/ADHD.

      Reply
    • ChristinaFields (Edit) Report

      kellymiller9900 Behavior therapy is one thing we have not yet tried! I think we have tried just about everything else though.  Thank you for your post, I am certainly going to speak to our pediatrician about this topic! 

      Christina

      Reply
  8. Trekmom1 (Edit) Report

    Has the child hadconseling for the death of his mother? That little guy has been through alot of turmoil in a very short period of time and his father too. Ask for services through the school.

    Reply
  9. juszme88 (Edit) Report

    I recently became a step-mom to a 9 year old boy that the school swears is ADHD but his father doesn’t want to do anything about it. The child lost his mother to suicide in January and had to be moved from Washington state to Missouri away from everything he knows. His life in Washington was not that great, dealing with a drug addicted mother that was also bi-polar. He has been through a lot and his father does not want to do counseling as well. He has already been thrown out of one daycare, twice in one week, for becoming violent and had also had several incidents at school from January to May for problems with violence.  I agree he does have ADHD because of the not being able to concentrate on one thing for very long or always having to talk or move. The teachers have issues with him for the same things.  Is there a way to help him without medicating him since his father does not want to?  I also need the support in learning how to deal with him. All my kids are in their twenties and I have never had to deal with this myself.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      juszme88 Thank you for reading. It does sound like you inherited a lot all at once. I like to think these challenges come into our lives, often unexpected, but just at the right time because maybe YOU are the person who can really help your stepson. I am not a professional, just a mom, but it does sound like me might benefit from counseling. Losing a parent at any age is not easy. As for treating ADHD without medication (my firsthand experience with my daughter), if you can find a holistic healthcare center who can advise you, I think that would be a good option. My daughter (now 9) has had all kinds of food sensitivity testing; neurotransmitter; adrenals; thyroid – just about all her systems and our doctors continually monitor her behavior, energy, etc. They have prescribed several different supplements that she takes instead of medication as well as adjusting her diet as needed to limit foods that cause issues for her. Also, I highly recommend reading the articles on Empowering Parents, by the professionals on staff! They always have techniques and tips for handling challenging children in a calm, confident way. I have used these behavioral techniques myself and they work!! I found that the more I adjust MY reaction to my daughter’s behavior (usually defiance), the better results I get from her. Please feel free to contact me through my website http://www.myhighmaintenancelife.com and I can give you more specifics about the types of medical tests/food sensitivities tests my daughter has taken. Wishing you success and healing.

      Reply
  10. brekeshaallen Report

    I’m so glad to come across this article. My daughter is five and recently diagnosis with ADHD/ODD. This has been the hardest hurdle of my life. Her first year of traditional school was a disaster and with little help from her dad, I have been on my own. I personally have gotten the same lecture from family and friends, “she will grow out of it”. I am looking for support and suggestions from other parents dealing with similar issues. I love my daughter but her behavior has seriously given me high blood pressure. I have been so stressed because I can’t seem to finds ways to negotiate or redirect her behaviors. Please help!!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Briekisha Thank you for reading, and I totally understand your frustration. I felt helpless many times, but please know it gets better. This website is a great resource for so many tips for handling this type of behavior. One thing that has helped me is retraining the way I think about being a mom. I try to adjust my approach to difficult and challenging behavior, reminding myself that my daughter doesn’t always react like “typical” children do under many circumstances. and therefore, “typical” responses don’t always work. That seemed to help my stress  level. I hope you find the help/resources you need, too. Also, for us, as I have talked about below, supplements and diet help a lot. Best wishes.

      Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      Briekisha  
      Thank you for writing in; I’m so pleased that you found our
      site!  As you can see from other commenters, you are not alone in trying
      to address the behaviors you are seeing with your daughter.  We try our
      best to create a nonjudgmental environment for all parents to support each
      other through their struggles, and I hope that you will find the answers and resources
      you are seeking from other parents on this thread.  In the meantime, you
      might find it helpful to view some of our other available resources here: http://www.empoweringparents.com/category-Adhd-And-Add.php and http://www.empoweringparents.com/category-Oppositional-Defiant-Disorder.php.  Please let us know if
      you have any additional questions; we’re here to help you!

      Reply
  11. deoduce2015 Report

    Wow!  When I read this:  

    “The problem is, I don’t think of these neurological factors when my daughter is arguing with me or bouncing off the walls at Target, begging me for a new lunchbox and on the verge of a temper tantrum that would be perfectly normal if she were two-years-old, but she is eight. When things like this happen, I never think, “Oh, it’s her ADHD.” My internal voice says instead, “What am I doing wrong here? Why is it that she doesn’t understand? Why doesn’t she want to be a well-behaved child? How did I become such a bad parent?”

    “Since my daughter was two, well-meaning friends and family members have advised, “She’s only two. She will grow out of it. It’s just a phase.” Then, when she was four, the same well-intended advisors would say, “You’ve got to get this behavior under control or things are gonna be really difficult when she is a teenager.”
    Yes, I am quite aware of this. People are still telling me this because now my daughter is eight and even closer to becoming a teenager with out-of-control hormones and peer pressure and a zillion other factors that will potentially make both our lives even more challenging and difficult.”

    My eyes watered over.  This has been my life, too.  Only x2.  I have a 10 year old girl with severe ADHD and anxiety and a 7 year old boy with the same but add on a new one on the DSM5 called DMDD (Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder).  Search up the symptoms on that one and you’ll see what I am up against.

    I am at a point where I feel like I have failed my children because of my lack of discipline, lack of following through, lack of consistency.  But honestly it was so difficult when you have two kids with the same issues and a husband with Multiple Sclerosis and on long term disability since the day my son was born.

    I heard the same comments about my daughter at the age of 2 and at the age of 4 and I heard the same for my son.  

    Life is not easy.  I am so hoping both the kids and I will make it through this tough time and I am really hoping that the anger and the aggression, especially with my son, will get under control.

    Thanks for this.

    Kim
    Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/adhd-add/parenting-a-kid-with-adhd-medication-or-parent-support-group/#ixzz3iWX22J4z

    Reply
    • karla Report

      DeeDee2015 Thank you so much for reading! I agree – life is not easy and it sounds like you really have your hands full. Some days are better than others when you are parenting a challenging child and I try to remind myself of that when I am in the middle of a verbal “showdown” with my daughter. Please know you are not alone and there are many resources to help, especially here! Wishing you peace.

      Reply
  12. Trekmom1 (Edit) Report

    Thanks for article. I had tears in my eyes reading this. It’s feels good to know other parents are struggling with the same issues.I have a 16 year daughter with ADHD/ODD. When she takes she medications she is reasonable and somewhat cooperative.(for a teenager). not medicated it’s a living hell. We let her get a job at 16 and this has helped with her self esteem and allowed her not have to ask mom for money. But now she wants to drive a car like her friends. I’am terrified to let her take  driver’s education. She is inconsistent  about taking her medication schedule and is compulsive. She claims to be saving her money to buy a used mini van to be able to drive her  all friends. Yikes! I can’t wait for school to start to help her with a structured day. Anyone else dealing with driver’s ed?

    Reply
  13. camron72 (Edit) Report

    My son was diagnosised in 1st grade with ADHD and he is now going into 7th grade and we are struggling with medication with the schools and me not wanting him on medicines but last year was the worst year ever for him. He had 15 detentions and has never had any in the past. Need some help in what to do….. Can’t seem to find a way to help him and really don’t want him on medicines but I can really see a difference when he is on them but me and my husband would rather have natural remedies but he is a very picky eater and diet didn’t work at all he just never ate…. He is only 84lbs need advise… Thanks

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      camron72 
      It can be very difficult to make the decision about which
      route to take to address a child’s diagnosis and accompanying struggles, and as
      you can see from other comments here, you are not alone in this.  It
      sounds like you have tried a few things thus far with mixed results, and
      knowing your child, and what works (and what hasn’t) is going to be helpful in
      figuring out what to do next.  If you are considering medication or other
      treatment options for your son, it could be useful to schedule an appointment
      with his doctor.  Your concerns about medication are not uncommon, and
      your son’s doctor would be in a better position to address these with
      you.  Ultimately, the decision about what to do next is a highly personal
      one.  You and your husband are going to be the best judge of what is right
      for your son and your family.  Thank you for reaching out, and being a
      part of our community.  Please be sure to check back and let us know how
      things are going; take care.

      Reply
  14. dtcoach58 (Edit) Report

    Great article and great work on behalf of all of you parents. The fact that you are all on this site sharing and learning from each other places you (unfortunately) in the minority. We have to take an active role in learning about how to parent. Total Transformation is a great program, but you have to implement and practice what is taught. I became a Common Sense Parenting (Boy’s Town Program) Instructor and have had the opportunity to teach the program several times. The combination of both programs has been very helpful, but keep in mind that nothing works all the time and sometimes not at all. My son was diagnosed with ODD and ADHD when in his early teens. The first 3 years of his life were complete hell for us and then the ODD reared its’ ugly head again in his early teens. I see references to using medication for the ADHD, but that is assuming the child will take it, especially if they have ODD. They might look like they are taking it but they might also hide it under their tongue, take it out and perhaps sell it. We used to really suffer through the most difficult behaviors until we learned to pick our battles and not take the behaviors personally. Many times the consequences didn’t work. It is important to stick with your parenting plan, be flexible and most importantly get support for yourself – there are local support group meetings for parents of children with ADHD run by CHADD – we have been to some of them and found some of them to be helpful and some not. There might also be support groups for parents of difficult children that have multiple issues (I ran a group in my community). Check out your local mental health association. You will learn much from other parents and you won’t feel like you are the only one dealing with this. We were fortunate to find an excellent therapist for my son. He had been to several (when we could get him to go) and the current one is perfect for him – ask around for referrals to find one for your child and trust your instincts regarding the effectiveness of the therapist (within reason). As a family we would also meet to discuss issues and sometimes my wife and I would meet with the therapist to discuss or son. He is 19 and so, sooooo much better. We still see some of the ODD behaviour but not so much directed at us. Also keep in mind that most parents deal with some of the same issues regardless of whether they have any kind of diagnosis. Learning about Developmental stages is important as well as reading about the teenage brain and how the stage of their brain until it is fully developed when they are in their 20’s affects their behavior. Most importantly – you must take care of yourself – mentally, emotionally and physically. It does get better!!!

    Reply
    • KateKaufmanJohnson (Edit) Report

      Thanks so much for this post–for the hope sprinkled throughout it. It so often feels like a losing battle , with little joy in the home where family is supposed to be your haven . Every little thing becomes a battle before you even open your mouth, and you are right, they are smart,cunning and sneaky. I try to really regulate our diet but they eat only what they want , refuse often, then snack on junk when they are away from home . I try my hardest to be consistent but then fail with consequences at times due to all-out combat. I have the TT programs also but do not see true change occurring , maybe because my child is growing into another phase-pre-pubescent and now I feel I am fighting against the wind . And without the backup of my husband to offset or at least volley the battles back and forth, it is disheartening . But thank you for your words of wisdom!!

      Reply
  15. karla Report

    Hello
    parents! I finally have results from my daughter’s neurotransmitter tests, and
    the data is fascinating, to say the least. It makes me wonder what is going on
    chemically in all these ADD/ADHD brains that we can manage with the proper
    supplements, if we only knew what our kids were missing. I feel that I am one
    step closer in figuring things out and helping my daughter further manage her
    emotions and energy – especially when it becomes overwhelming to her.
    I
    made some other observations I wanted to share here as well. Maybe some of you
    have noticed patterns like this with your children? My daughter, now 9 years
    old, experiences “outbursts” or an inability to manage herself
    emotionally and physically at times, particularly when she is tired or hungry.
    That’s when I see the most defiance. At those moments, instead of getting angry
    and frustrated and threatening her with negative consequences, as I have done
    many times in the past, I now try to remove her from the situation and find out
    what is going on in her mind. I ask her questions like, “What are you feeling
    right now? Can you tell me why you seem to be so angry?”
    It
    is my hope if we can identify the situation together, maybe she will be able to
    identify it herself in the future, even when I am not there, and be able to
    correct the problem. I can truly see a chemical imbalance or deficiency when in
    a matter of minutes after she eats or takes a short nap she is completely back
    to her usual cheerful self and willing to be compliant and sweet. The
    difference is remarkable. It’s as if her evil twin appears and then disappears
    once she is back in balance!
    The
    neurotransmitter test results are the opposite of what I imagined.  My
    daughter’s doctor, or “Dr. A” as we call her, said that a Vitamin C deficiency
    and possibly an adrenal issue could be contributing to my daughter’s inability
    to convert dopamine into the other necessary neurotransmitters. And, as Dr. A
    explained, “That’s why she is sometimes all over the place and can’t focus!” My
    daughter’s ADHD, it appears, is exactly as the neurotransmitters indicate –
    extreme highs and lows!
    We
    just started the Adrenal Support supplement and the Vitamin C. If we don’t see
    improvement, we will have her thyroid tested and additional adrenal testing.
    Additionally,
    the neurotransmitter test lab results offered the following interpretations:
    -Elevated
    GABA may contribute to difficulty concentrating, diminished memory, dampened
    mood and decreased cognitive processing as well as fatigue and sleepiness.
    -Elevated
    dopamine may result in increased worry, distrust of others, and decreased
    ability to interact socially, and is often found in patients with attention
    deficits and hyperactivity.
    -Low
    norepinephrine and epinephrine levels may be associated with depression and
    mood changes as well as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and decreased
    ability to stay focused on tasks.
    -Elevated
    glutamate may be associated with anxiety, poor concentration, attention
    deficits and hyperactive tendencies, and may contribute to poor sleep,
    inability to relax, and nighttime awakening. Possible sources of increased
    glutamate include MSG, yeast extract and other hidden sources of free glutamic
    acid.
    I
    share this with you here in hopes that perhaps it offers another factor to
    consider when determining the best course of action for your children.  If you would like
    more detailed information about the test results, contact me via my website at http://www.myhighmaintenancelife.com/Please
    feel free to ask more questions, make comments, and keep this dialog open so we
    can all help each other! Thank you! Wishing you all the best.

    Reply
    • Yen Report

      karlasoccisomers Hi, thank you so much for starting this post.  I have a 13 year old daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD.  I did not want to medicate her initially but decided to give it a try since the medication seems to help keep her focused at school.  The doc has since taken her off of the ADHD meds and put her on a mood stabilizer and antipsychotic.  Once she was on these meds, her condition have gotten worse and her grades slipped to the point that she failed the last quarter.  She’s like a vegetable when she takes these meds.  I have raised my concerns with the psychologist but all she does is take her off of one antipsychotic and put her on a different one.  All I hear is my daughter has a chemical imbalance but I am not  sure what exactly it is that is out of balance.  The doc thinks she is bipolar but cannot conclude the diagnosis due to her age.  I was told I would have to wait til she is 16 to be accurately diagnosed.  I have asked if she can be tested to determine what the imbalance is but was told there is no such thing.  From your post, you’ve had success with having your daughter tested.  Hoping that you can provide me with some guidance on where to begin to get these tests.  I live in the Connecticut.  Thanks.

      Reply
      • karla Report

        @Jenga82 Thank you so much for reading. I am sorry that you are going through such a struggle with your daughter’s doctors/meds. I cannot give any kind of medical advice, but, as you noted, based on the testing I had done with my daughter, we have been able to manage her ADHD and moods with natural supplements. Try searching for a “holistic medical center” or an “integrated medicine and wellness center” in your area. You may try contacting chiropractors in your area as well, as they may be able to offer referrals. Please feel free to send me an email via my website http://www.myhighmaintenancelife.com as well, and I can discuss a bit more detail about the neurotransmitter testing and food sensitivity testing that we have done. You’ll be able to email me directly from that website. Wishing you the best! Hope this is helpful.

        Reply
    • KateKaufmanJohnson (Edit) Report

      This is fascinating information.! Your daughter sounds so much like mine. Unfortunately diet is one area where she is most defiant and uncooperative so it is a constant struggle . I tried omega 3 DHA supplement which she took 3 times and then I found the bottle empty in the fridge . But we forge ahead..
      Thank you so much for sharing …

      Reply
  16. Andrea72 (Edit) Report

    Thank you for writing this article. I am also a single mom of an only child and feel the same way about not understanding how some parents can manage multiple children! My son is 12 and half and was diagnosed with ADD at age 10 by the request of his grade 6 teacher. With a diagnoses, he would be given an IPP that would follow him through the rest of his schooling years. That allows him special consessions when it comes to homework, assignment time and help during tests. Even with his IPP he is still doing quite poorly in school. I was 24/7 parent until he was 9 and half and decided I had to move back to Calgary where my mother lives so that I had support and help as I felt I was losing my mind. Like you, I am trying the natural way first. No artificial food color, aspretame or sodium benzoate. Eliminating these ingredients from his diet has helped. I have also started him on vitamins called True Hope and I have found that they too help. As it is, he is going into grade 8 this coming September and I seriously fear at his success. I would rather not have to put him on medication, but if that is what it comes down to, then I will try it at least. For now, he is under the watch of a pediatrician again and will be going into more therapy to help us understand him so we can help him better. It is extremely frustrating, exhausting and all very real! I could say more, but it sounds like we live a parallel life and so I know you already know. My heart goes out to you and all the parents and children learning how to deal, cope and conquor.
    Andrea

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Andrea72 Hi Andrea. Thank you so much for reading and for your comments! It sounds like you are doing a great job helping your son with all kinds of options. There are so many options before medication, but we are hardly ever told about those by pediatricians and other health professionals. I get a lot of support from my family who live close by, so I feel very fortunate for that as well. Wishing you the best as you go forward on this journey!

      Reply
  17. Frostnova (Edit) Report

    Hi Karla, 

    Thank you for sharing your experience, I have a soon to be 7 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at beginning of this year. Your article may well be written based on my life, we are facing the same challenges and same dilemmas. Despite the pressure from health professionals, school, family and friends, we chose not to medicate our son, and to take the holistic approach. We are still at the early stages of this journey, and will undertake iLS – integrated listening system therapies. Later this year we will also try movement therapy, which we have heard good things about.

    Thank you for your article, and I don’t feel so alone anymore.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Frostnova Thank you so much for reading and for your comments. This is exactly why I wanted to get my story out there – so parents like us would find each other and NOT feel so alone!! Our challenges will continue, but knowing we are not “stranded on an island” certainly helps me feel encouraged. I just received word that my daughter’s neurotransmitter test results are in, so I will let everyone know if I discover anything helpful. Best wishes to you and your son!

      Reply
  18. clopara Report

    Hi Karla!  I can certainly identify with your article!! This is excellent!  I feel that is something definitely lacking in my community.  I have a 15 year old daughter who was  diagnosed with ADD this year.  I had long suspected that she may have it. However, it was always “discounted” by the teachers because she got good grades and was not a behavior problem.  Like you, I am a single parent – which adds to the difficulty of it all. 

    The first year of high school was a different story completely.  From the first day of school, I could see that she was having an extremely difficult time managing her classes and schoolwork…not to mention everything else she tried to do aside from that. 

    I asked the counselor at my daughter’s school if there was a support group for parents at school who were trying to manage kids with ADD and since there is not, at the end of the year, I offered to help run one.  This is a very difficult time (without ADD) but adding that to the mix, just makes it more challenging.  My daughter needs a forum not only to understand her ADD, but to learn how to advocate for herself.  I thought it might be something I could do with one of the special ed teachers, the counselor or even an intern…. 

    You identified in your article all of the things I have been feeling! 

    Thank you so much!!!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      clopara Thank you so much for reading! That is fantastic that you are trying to get a support group started at your daughter’s school. I completely understand your situation, as my daughter gets good grades, too, so they (so far) will not formally make special accommodations for her at school. Fortunately, she had an amazing third grade teacher who would allow her more time on tests or a more private space to do her work when the distractions of the classroom became too much for her whizzing mind to manage. Everyone keeps telling me, “It will get harder and harder for her as the schoolwork becomes more demanding.” We are taking it one day at a time. Thank you for your input on the whole experience. Best wishes to you and your daughter.

      Reply
  19. Felice Martin (Edit) Report

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.  This article is very informative.  I work with children and teens  who deal with some of the behavior issues described in this post. I help  parent’s who have taken a non-medication approach to managing their child’s behavior.  The struggle is real; I admire the commitment of each parent/caregiver bringing this issue to the forefront.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Felice Martin Thank you, Felice, for your support and encouraging words! The struggle IS real, and from what I can tell, all the parents who have commented are doing an AMAZING job working through it to help their AMAZING children!!

      Reply
  20. Sandra Report

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 9 years old.  He was having trouble keeping up with his homework assignments.  Every week I would have to go to his school and look through all his stuff for his homework assignments.  I didn’t want to medicate at first and tried using all natural (Focus Formula and Bright Spark).  It seemed to really help him, but then his body became accustomed to it and it no longer worked.  He was having major issues and couldn’t keep friends so I decided to try medicine.  A couple of medicines had some bad effects on him, but we finally found something that worked pretty well with him.  I don’t like the idea of giving him medicine, but I hated to see him struggle.  I am also a single parent and was also struggling.  My son is now a teenager and still has ADHD plus the hormones which we are trying to get through.  Sometimes I feel like giving up, but he is my son and I will do what I have to.  He is a good kid most of the time; and after he has an outburst and cools off he will apologize to me later.  If only I could get him to think when he is having his outburst. 

    My son has always been a good student making A’s and B’s.  If he could focus more, he could be a straight A student.  Last year I let him do things on his own with little input from me and he went from mostly A’s to mostly B’s, but he still did well even though he never studied for a test so I know he is a bright kid.  Makes me wonder what he could do if he didn’t have ADHD.  Unfortunately he has a mom who will not accept anything less than a B so I probably add pressure to him, but I’ve told him if I honestly believed he couldn’t do the school work then I would accept C’s; however, he has proven that he can do much better than a C with little effort. 

    My son’s biggest problems are focusing and angry outbursts.  If he has a big project, I have to help him break it down or it will overwhelm him.  If he gets overwhelmed, he will completely shut down.  And he doesn’t like to sit down to study because he cannot stay focused for a very long period of time.  Also, if things don’t go his way, he can have some pretty bad outbursts. He has gotten so bad before that I think about running away – not that I would really run away but I do think about it.  My parents would take him on weekends sometimes to give me a break, but my father has dementia now so that is not an option and I feel like I can’t get away.  I’m hoping Total Transformations will give me some tools I can use.  Thankfully my son is not a big kid because I’m a small person.  There have been times that all I could do is bear hug him until he calmed down because he was having a violent outburst.  I would never hurt him, but I won’t let him hurt me either.  And I don’t give in and let him have his way; in my house there are rules to follow and I try to teach him there are consequences when he makes bad choices.  I don’t want him to think he can get away with things using his ADHD as an excuse.

    I’ve probably rambled on, but I have wondered too if I failed at parenting somewhere along the way.  I’ve always taught him right from wrong and let him know there will always be consequences if he makes a bad choice for his entire life, but he still has issues.  I appreciate all those who share their stories; it helps me to realize I am not alone.

    Reply
    • GrannieRachLena (Edit) Report

      @Sandra22 
      Hi Sandra22 – you have not failed and you do need a break from time-to-time.  don’t feel guilty about it!!  My Nathan is also going into 1st grade this year and does the exact same things!  Sometimes a bear hug works – most times it doesn’t – but – I did find that when I get something in front of him that he knows and likes – it settles him down faster.  We have taped several “Daniel Tigers Neighborhood” from our local PBS channel – very soothing for his type of child…so we start with that in the background.  Then I sit down at his level with legos or some crafting(marker, colored pencils, or crayons with some card stock and some punches – if you have them)
      supplies and I begin working with it (note that I also have great ear plugs for his screaming outbursts) it…within just a few minutes I have his attention on to what I am doing or the tv – his choice…you can visually see him begin to calm down and focus again.  From my experiences this is what happens – they just get too jumbled up in their hyper active beautiful little mind and when it gets too crowded up there, they cant focus and get VERY UPSET!!  This is when they act/lash out.  The meds do help a lot to slow his little electrodes down – but my learning just what goes on in there and how to help him help himself has been working greatly over the last 6 mo.  We bought the Total Transformation program for us/him last summer – it has been a great help to teach us (this is very important – yes, you do need to be “re-taught”) when you need to or should step in, when to back off and when the child is totally out of line and needs to understand the repercussions of their actions.  Good luck and God bless you for working so hard to help your child!

      Reply
  21. Energize37 (Edit) Report

    Everyone should do what is right for their family and child. After we found out in first grade our daughter was twice exceptional with ADHD and being gifted we tried counseling, parenting differently but nothing seemed to work. What finally made me decide to try medicine was when I continually saw her sitting by herself at school and she started to really feel bad about herself and was getting into trouble a lot. We had to try a few different medicines until we finally found one that worked. But slowly she started to develop friendships and was able to control her impulses. Most importantly her self esteem started to improve and she liked herself.
    My daughter is currently going into eight grade, I can’t say it has all been easy. We had to change her medicine and add an antidepressant when she hit puberty. But right now she is at a good point in her life. She is really trying to do her best in school with only a few missing assignments. She also has a nice group of friends. Most importantly she likes herself and is happy with her life. Best of luck to everyone.

    Reply
    • GrannieRachLena (Edit) Report

      Energize37  Thank you for sharing!  my child is only in 1st grade this fall – but we know that this will be something we may have to deal with for the rest of his life.  does your daughter do any crafting to help her focus and self esteem?  We have been working on that and reading up on possible diet changes.

      Reply
  22. KateKaufmanJohnson (Edit) Report

    Thank you Karla – that is so true ; it is sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees when we are consumed with trying to figure out these challenges . It is all prompted by love and devotion to our kiddos and families, but is bigger than life itself . I am thankful for the friends here , and to you for initiating .
    Started a DHA Omega 3 syrup with my babe.. Trick now is getting her to take it 😊😓❤️

    Reply
  23. karla Report

    I am filled with gratitude for everyone who is reading and responding to comments as a result of my post! That was my whole intent – to help us find support, to share ideas, methods, stories; to vent, to ask for help. I feel empowered and connected reading about all of you and your amazing children! I am learning from each of you, and I just want to remind ALL of us, as parents of challenging, twice-gifted, brilliant, outside-the-box children, we are much stronger than we realize. I am understanding that as I read each of your stories and the theme is that we all want to go the extra mile to help our children thrive. That’s amazing in and of itself! Thank you all for helping me recognize that.

    Reply
  24. tejal.somesh Report

    I don’t know where to shout with joy or break down in tears after having read all the life stories shared here. My 9 year old is facing so many issues at school. He is a precious child, tested as a Gifted child with an IQ score of 150. He has been diagnosed with ADHD before, then they said it may have been wrong. So he was on and then off medication for it. We were told he might have some adenoids blocking out his nasal passage and underwent a surgery to have it removed. The psychologist and the endocrinologist thought these might contribute to his erratic behavior. The best part is that he only misbehaves at school. He has been promoted from the 3rd grade to the 5th grade with his Principal feeling that once his studies become challenging he will start paying attention and calm down. He loves music, thinks completely outside of the box, comes up with unique ideas which show love and compassion for humanity at large. But school has called me in again and suggested we get him on medication since his symptoms do show that he could be ADHD. So it’s again going to start the entire circle of tests, followed by medication. The last time he was on medication he got quite depressed and showed suicidal tendencies with episodes where my hubby or I would have to rush home from work. 

    His IQ test puts him in the age bracket of a teenager although he’s still 9. His emotional quotient however puts him between the age of a 5-6 year old. Could this possibly be the reason for his actions? He fairs really well academically. Loves to swim, plays great football, loves the arts of music, very creative with his hands, always offers to help me out in the kitchen, has an amazing sense of humour, oh i could go on but then my hubby feels it’s only coz i’m his mum. He is very bright, no doubt about that. Flip side of things is, he can’t take the  bus to school since he has gotten in to squabbles there. He doesn’t really have friends at school since no one can judge what he may be up to next.  He is a very social person and loves to be among people but his punishment at school is to alienate him so he learns his lesson which usually backfires.

    Please suggest if I am over reacting to this entire take on treating my son like a scientific specimen up for experiments. Counselors say that it becomes impossible for them to handle him when he kicks off one such tantrum. He stands suspended from school as of today until another few days. I have been suggested a different psychiatrist this time. I wonder what else is in store for my child.

    I will be trying to get my hands on ‘The Whole Brain Child’ book to begin with. Please suggest of anything that I can follow this with.

    Reply
    • dbeaulieu Report

      @Tej 

      It is understandable you are
      concerned about what is taking place with your son at school . It sounds like
      your son is really struggling and the school is looking for answers to help him
      get through his day without being disruptive and getting into trouble. It is
      great that you are so involved and aware of the situation and working hard to
      be your son’s advocate and look out for his best interests. It is hard for me
      to say whether or not medication and more testing  is the answer. That is
      something you will have to continue to work with your son’s treatment team on
      what is the best option for your son. Something to keep in mind is that your
      son is most likely acting out at school to solve a problem. Unfortunately, he
      is lacking the appropriate skills to solve his problems effectively, as many
      kids are. In the article http://www.empoweringparents.com/Acting-Out-in-School-When-Your-Child-is-the-Class-Troublemaker.php, James Lehman talks
      about the importance of coaching your child on ways to cope with situations
      that are frustrating or overwhelming. These are normal emotions that everyone
      faces, but not everyone, especially children, know how to deal with it
      appropriately. Teaching your son how to handle obstacles will help him
      to make better choices in the future. I know you have been dealing with a lot.
      Your son sounds like a really great kid with a lot of positive attributes. You
      will all get through this difficult time, hang in there. Thank you for reaching
      out to us for guidance. Take care.

      Reply
    • GrannieRachLena (Edit) Report

      @Tej  DONT PANIC!!  We are all in the same boat and its still afloat!!  My 6-yr old grandson Nathan is also very VERY smart (never tested yet – just what we see/know)  We know that part of his school issues was also like yours – boredom!!
      If you have kindle (or something like it) you can get it thru Amazon (The whole brain Child) – I did as I wanted it asap to help me with him.  None of us wants to feel lost on this issue but sometimes it happens!  Doctors, medications, therapies, books, etc…there is no one magic fix!  I have found it actually takes a combination of these things with numerous trial-and-errors.  Every child is different – first they (the specialist) think you are over reacting, then when you finally get someone’s attention, the first thing they want to do is dope them up with meds.  This was the 2nd biggest scare – was this the right thing to do?  I am a research-aholic – not just reading, but asking any/everyone I can get ahold of on whatever my subject matter may be – in this case, medicating a 6 year old that wont stop moving – EVER!??!! 
      My advise to you, after all of my endeavours, – 1) DONT GIVE UP – there is bits of sunshine through the clouds, you just are not quite at the rainbow yet. 2) If you don’t like or trust your child’s doctors/therapists – CHANGE THEM – remember it is still called “practicing” medicine – true meaning is they don’t always have the answers either (learned that one decades ago with my mothers cancer doctors).  You have a right to what ever docs they have accumulated on your child already – you have a right to them as parent – use them!!  You know your child’s “signs” more than anyone (especially a doctor) – you just need to find one that will hear you and actually LISTEN!!  Once you feel comfortable (and that is a HUGE key to a good doctor) you will be ahead of the game.  I have had (been through lots of baddies to find my good ones) great experience in the field of “practicing medicine” – so don’t stop trying till YOU feel comfortable (also your child needs to be the same!).
      My Nathan also got kicked off the bus – suspended for 3 days but they said the issue was him picking the fight.  I know he is not perfect, but he usually doesn’t start the fight (he is 1/2black in a predominantly white – good-ole-boy area – so we always knew there would be some people with issues-sad part is he is only 6 and getting it already!!??!!)

      If you have ever researched ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiance and all the other “labels” they (again Dr.and therapists) like to pin on kids – it is amazing how close the symptoms are to each other – exactly which one is your child – may not even be a “one” thing!  Nathan actually has bits of 4 including autisim (and don’t rule that one out either – got to WebMD.com it gives great  layman descriptions of all of this) – yep, a mild form of it. 

      The best thing I have found is with proper prep(research/knowledge) on your part (like the Whole brain child book), the right meds to slow down their little electronic brain connections, and providing great stimulations to keep them happy – – -then you too can be happy and have a happy family. 

      One last thing- don’t expect and over-night miracle, and there will be relapses…we have learned how to “watch” him and anticipate them. He HATES changes and abandonment (of any/every kind)…so we try to make any transitions fun and accompanied so he know we are not just leaving him to handle it alone.  Most time it works, but there are still those select moment of tantrum.  The best part is they are mega less than they used to be, and we have even learned some techniques to de-escalate the situation.  So Kudos to you for speaking out and wanting to do more!!  Good luck, and my prayers are with you!!

      Reply
  25. tiredmom (Edit) Report

    I have a 13 year old daughter that has just been diagnosed with ADHD.  it comes as a relief, since we have spend most of her 13 years wondering why is so different from my other 3 children, why she cant make friends, why she argues about everything, and what did we do wrong to make her this way?  we at least have something to “call it” and read up on, and learn more about and now we want to try some meds, over the summer, to see if we can make her ‘happier”, and in turn, all of us around her, happier 🙂  we don’t have a psychiatrist to give her meds at this time, so I will ask her pediatrician for his recommendation.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @tiredmom Thank you for reading. It is never easy to receive confirmation of something that makes your child “different” but I also try to remind myself that my daughter’s difference is also what makes her so unique and wonderful, too! I respect every parent’s decision to medicate or not medicate. My only advice is to read as much as you can about the potential side effects. Many of the drugs have little data on the longterm effects. Best wishes.

      Reply
  26. GrannieRachLena (Edit) Report

    My grandson is 6 – EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEMS/ISSUES!!  Don’t feel alone – I did at first, then I was lucky enough to run into a step-mother of 3 boys (each had his own issues also) and she was wonderful enough to share her thoughts, feeling, trials and errors.  That was when I/we went from  “absolutely no meds” to “give him some NOW”!  It only sounds like a bad thing to those who are not experiencing these types of children.  On one hand you feel like you have failed cuz nothing and no one seems to get through to them…on the other hand you and the rest of the family have to deal with this problem hourly.  The best advise I can give you is start with something low dose – we used concerta.  It takes a couple of weeks to sink in.  2) Anytime you (or your doctor) want to try a new or larger dose med – wait the 2 weeks to see the full results and if it is helping or not.  With my Nathan it took 6 years for him to be this way, I realize he is not going to change over-night.  YOU DIDNT FAIL IN/ON ANYTHING!! Keep telling yourself this – it is true.  Get the book “the whole brain child” (cant praise this enough or the counselor that turned me onto it!!)…clearly understands how and why your child is this way.  3) Stay firm on the fact that they may not have to be on meds forever!!!  Once they grow up enough that their over emotionalized brain can catch up with the rationalizing side – we hope that they can start to come together on their own. 
    My sister and I own a small farm which is completely run on “no chemicals” (we don’t even say organic because you can use up to 15% chemicals and still call it organic?!!) so we don’t like to mess with anything like that.  But in Nathan’s case we finally broke down and realized that he needed more than just talk.  the talk was not getting his beautiful little brain to slow down and connect right.  We had to do what was best for him.  If your doctor wont work with you on this – FIND A NEW DOCTOR!!  Try your local mental health services (that was where we went after doctors and regular therapists didn’t help) – and don’t feel bad for going there – this is not about you – IT IS ABOUT SAVING/HELPING YOUR CHILD!! 
    My Nathan is brilliant also – but had the same problem of  not sitting still.  Even ran out of the class room and into the street in front of a moving car – luckily no one was hurt.  I have full custody of him now.  His mother has been going through therapy since last April (Easter 2014 we had a house fire – took everything we had plus Nathan’s younger brother Andrew – we are all going through some type of therapy – still have numerous scars inside and out.) so she is still not able to handle anything but herself right now.  My/our family grew up very close – we have always been there for each other and will continue to do so, so trying to help and support Nathan is one of my full-time jobs right now.  This is just what moms and grandmas and great aunts do!!  Good luck!! (and try to stay strong!!)

    Reply
    • karla Report

      GrannieRachLena Prayers to you and your family, Grannie!! Thank you for sharing your experiences and advice to help all of us!

      Reply
  27. MommaDragon (Edit) Report

    I am so glad to have found this group! I have needed something like this.

    My daughter is 7 and has been diagnosed with ADHD by two separate therapists. Her pediatrician will not put her on meds, even though I have requested it, because she has not fallen behind academically. In fact she is far above average. Is he waiting for her to fall behind? I don’t understand that logic. I tried to stay away from the meds, she has done therapy for 2 1/2 years for behavior but not much improvement. She makes me want to pull my hair out! Sometimes she is so sweet and she is so creative and so funny. She is so full of energy, she is on a gymnastics show team. She does well in school academically but she won’t sit still. She is always the first one done with her work and then she will sit at her desk and draw. As she progresses through school I am worried how she will do. She has an appointment this week with her pediatrician and if he does not put her on meds I will be looking for a new doctor. 

    I tried to stay away from meds but in her situation this is our last resort before we all lose our minds. She has become defiant and argumentative and we do not take her anywhere because she will literally climb the shelves and racks or just wander off, she has no inhibitions or no sense of danger. I think the meds would benefit her and would take that edge off to help her calm down a bit before she falls behind and gets into trouble at school.

    Her siblings are starting to resent her and are having a hard time with the fact that we can’t go anywhere as a family because of her behavior. For the sake of our family and sanity for all I want to give meds a try.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      MommaDragon Thank you for reading and hang in there!! I agree with Grannie, you have to find the support and help you need. Ultimately, it’s about doing what’s best for your children and your family. Best wishes to you.

      Reply
  28. LeafromGermany (Edit) Report

    HI All,
    I am mother of 4, twins (boys) of almost 9, a daughter of 6 and an infant of 5 months today. One of the boys is diagnosed with ADHD and for the moment we are again going through a very rough phase.Of course there is a lot of guilt with me: I left their father when my daughter was only 1 1/2, re-married, got a new baby, my husband is very very often working abroad, which leaves me here with the 4 kids alone. 
    I feel very incapable most of the time, grades in school are hopeless, homework takes ages, and when that is all not enough, the ADHD son also pesters his siblings and harms all relationships with people that support me when for once I need to leave. So i even get more isolated. Now I am told as well that “only medication with help him”, whereas I am still convinced that this will not change the issue. Nonetheless, I feel that I do not only need to deal with my son, but even more with the people around me, such as my husband (stephfather of the 3 oldest children, who tells me in despair “they will leave this place and can go back to their mental sick father”), neighbors, schoolteachers, peers, and and. 
    Next week we finally have a place with a therapist, but over the phone she did not sound to be too promising. I fear already that again I will be told that my son needs to go on medication. 

    Does anybody has similar experiences and eventually advice?

    And if this alone is not enough… the twin brother has always acted “strange” when it come to getting and staying in contact with other children. There was one moment that people thought he may suffer from autism. This has been tested negatively. However, he seems to do only well when I would allow him to play computer games or watch tv 24/7. Difficult to allow that. Currently he betrays me more and more, when ever I may have a little nap, do quick shopping etc and have explicitly told him (and got his agreement) not to watch tv, he does not hold his promises. This makes me for the moment even more helpless and powerless then dealing with the ADHD symptoms. 

    Maybe worthwhile to know: the boys were born at 35 weeks, were in IC for 2 weeks and one week Non Int. Care. Someone told me that this has an impact on regulation capacities later on in life. Furthermore I have the feeling that the boy who is always lying, suffers from a dissociative disorder, where parts of him are not present / can not deal with the life situation. As dissociative disorders are not very well “known” by therapist, I constantly walk against the wall when I address the issue with caretakers or therapists. They all have “heard about in when following courses on trauma”, which is too little to deal with the issue. My husband (a adult therapist himself has extentsively followed courses with key int.teacher on dissociation and I only followed a few… yet it is impossible to be the therapist of my child as I feel my boundaries have been reached so much lately, that I can not even be friendly to him anymore. Last of all: the lying are traces that are very much the behavior of his father. Needles to say that – because one of the reasons of leaving was exactly this – that here something else get’s triggered as well. 

    Thank you for just reading my story. And if you have any advice, I would be more the happy.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      LeafromGermany HI Lea, thank you for reading and for sharing your story. My advice is to find doctors and therapists who support you and your child. We have been to several – some of whom I agree with and some of whom I do not. It is important to find professionals who support whatever decision you are making. Best wishes to you and your family.

      Reply
  29. 1PrayingMomma (Edit) Report

    I love you for writing this….I just want to cry as I’ve been searching to find others who understand what this situation feels like and not give the looks and advice that lead you to feel like a bad parent. It’s been amazingly difficult to find a support group where I live….or maybe I’m not looking in the right place, but from another single mom with a challenging child, thank you.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @1PrayingMomma Oh, thank you so much for reading. I know exactly how you feel. It is so lonely at times, especially when you are friends with other parents whose kids seem to be doing so well while yours is struggling. You are NOT ALONE!! I’m happy you found this supportive website and this specific group. Keep praying! Best wishes and a hug to you and your child.

      Reply
  30. Kathy6 (Edit) Report

    GrannieRachLena – I can relate to the need for an inflexible routine.  New clothes were an issue for my son.  I would hang them in his room on the door knob for at least a week (a month was better) before asking him to put them on.  To this day, he will not wear long sleeve shirts.  As for why my child?  Who knows. It is a brain chemistry issue. My son was born with the cord wrapped around his neck.  They kept losing his heartbeat in the delivery room.  The doctor had to reach in and slip it off his neck.  The doctor told my husband if it hadn’t been so long it would have been a different story.  They know from the Vietnam air lift that babies deprived of oxygen can suffer with ADHD.  Also, heredity.  I was told blond hair, blue eyed boys are at risk.  Mental illness is a big issue in my family.  My mother was schizophrenic, bipolar, paranoid and clinically depressed. Although her children seemed to have escaped any mental illnesses, her grandchildren and great grandchildren are rife with mental health issues. Where God closes one door, He opens another.  Although our angels have behavioral issues, they are also among the smartest people in our society.  Careful, consistent parenting, encouragement, a sense of humor will ensure a successful adult and citizen.  They just need to learn in a different way than others and certain skills that come naturally to most others, have to be learned.  Getting ready for school in our house was a chaotic nightmare until we figured out he didn’t know where to start.  We sat down together and made a list of ten items: go to the bathroom; brush your teeth, comb your hair, etc.  He wanted it posted downstairs on the refrigerator.  The next morning, he got up, went downstairs read the first item, went back upstairs did it, came downstairs, read the second item, etc.  That little hard working angel did that routine daily for two weeks.  Then he read two items at a time, then, three, until he got the routine down.  There was never a chaotic nightmare morning after that list.  Made me cry at how hard he tried.  I learned to listen to HIM.  If he got angry or frustrated when asked to do something, that was his way of saying, “I don’t know where to start.”  I would back up with step one.  Set the table, put the laundry away, clean your room, were not specific.  He needed step by step.  It was heartbreaking for me to see how many times, he would happily take the basket of laundry upstairs and happily return  upstairs to take the clothes out of the basket, return downstairs to run back up to put each person’s clothes on their beds.  But he did it with a smile, enthusiasm and a sense of joy and achievement.  Made me realize what a great, hard working child I had.  Good luck and my prayers are with you, Grannie.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Kathy6 What a beautiful reminder, Kathy! Wow! Thank you for sharing that WE, the parents, are often the ones who need to learn a new way of communicating to our very special, smart, and wonderful children!! Too many times I have also thought, “Why doesn’t she get this?” but, as you said, it’s because WE need to learn a different way to communicate what is often so obvious to the rest of us. Breaking things down into simple steps is great advice. I also found that when I give my daughter only 1 or 2 steps at a time, she does better than if I say, “Go brush your teeth, put shoes on, and don’t forget to bring your book bag downstairs.” Just because my brain works to multitask like that, doesn’t mean her now-9-year-old brain works the same way. Best wishes to you and your family.

      Reply
  31. GrannieRachLena (Edit) Report

    Hi All – I am 56 yrs old and have custody of my 6yr old grandson – ADHD-oppositional defiance disorder – and what ever else the “specialists” can tag him with.  We have been through it all – therapists, institutes and meds.  Here is what I “know” – -1) what is the root of the disturbance?  this was a question I asked over and over and OVER again..not just from myself, but from his teachers, therapists etc….I tried to track him and see if I could find it – help me to prep for an outburst.  It kind of worked – changes are a HUGE deal with him, doesn’t like them at all!  Any form of abandonment (this is from his mom – whole other discussion) – babysitter etc, not good with it unless he has been introduced and had time to visit with where/whom ever is involved.  Med – at first we (my sister and I live/own a small farm together) did NOT want any!  Didn’t want a dopey little boy.  then after months of research, reading and discussions with other parents (most were at therapy also) – we tried “concerta”…it worked – at least at first.  What it did was slow down all of his emotional electrical brain currents long enough for him to “FOCUS” – this is the key to his issues.  We tried all kinds of parenting tactics and some parts of some worked – but not alone.  the 2nd key was to combine tactics and meds.  He now takes meds at different times of the day and one for night (he used to wake up screaming and trashing in the middle of the night – its called night terrors, don’t need and real life issues to bring them on..the happiest of kids can get them).  With/when all his brain wires are slowed down enough I/we have a wonderful, extremely smart, snuggle bug of a boy (what you always hope they would be so they can be happy!!)…however, you can spot the minute the stuff wears off.  We have a timer on my phone that he/we live by.  When it goes off, he knows its time for his meds.  He is ok with it because grandma (me) takes meds too (blood pressure and anxiety – go figure? ha ha) so we have a “human” thing in common.  DONT FEEL BAD IF YOU CHOOSE MEDS -we did at first and then found it helped him sooo much – not just thinking but having discussions with us, telling us how he feels instead of acting out.  You should also read “The whole brain child” book – helped us to understand WHY he is the way he is.  Our hope is that as he gets older things will finally start to manage themselves and we can drop all or at least part of the meds (don’t know much about night terrors?? if they stop? hope so!!).  But, for right now – we are doing well.  He is happy, healthy (fyi – watch their eating on some meds – wont be hungry so try to keep on hand fav foods – we have canned spaghetti-o’s, fruit and chicken – loves them all), and we can craft, play board games and have discussions without issues!!!  Just taking it all moment-by-moment and day-by-day – throwing some prayer in-between doesn’t hurt either!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      GrannieRachLena Thank you so much for sharing your story! It sounds like you are doing well, and I agree completely – some prayer never hurts! My best to you and your grandson.

      Reply
    • 1PrayingMomma (Edit) Report

      My daughter had night terrors as a toddler. She’s 11 now, and hasn’t had them since she was 4 or 5 but does have nightmares. So they seem to phase out but I’ll pray for you. It is hard to see any child go through those.

      Reply
    • KateKaufmanJohnson (Edit) Report

      GrannieRachLena thanks so much for sharing your story— it is comforting and balm to my soul to know you are making progress and feeling better about everything.  I am 57, and not grannie, but mama to my 2 as I have written in an earlier post, and struggled so with the decision to try meds.   We are still not quite there  yet, but it is good to know that there is hope.   Congratulations to you for your diligence and patience…that is a lucky little guy.  God Bless.

      Reply
      • GrannieRachLena (Edit) Report

        KateKaufmanJohnson GrannieRachLena 
        Thank you KateKaufmanJohnson – I am 56- God Bless you to as everyone dealing with children need all the help and support they can get (especially these wonderful, challenging kids 🙂  )

        Reply
  32. scheibs (Edit) Report

    My son with ADHD has been arguing with us since he could talk. Its about the most stupid stuff.  I get caught up in it ( hes 17 yrs ) .  His therapist says it stimulates him ( frustrates me )

    Reply
  33. Mary (Edit) Report

    Hello, I am the mother of an 11 daughter with ADHD – mainly hyperactive and oppositional. I was very reluctant to try medication at first. I also experienced feelings of shame that I was a bad parent and felt judged by others who have no idea how hard it is for the child, siblings, and the parents.
    I first tried neurofeedback sessions which helped, but were very expensive. I finallly decided to try medication when I noticed how her friends were reacting negatively to her. We also live overseas and move every two to three years for my job so consistent counseling is difficult. I finally decided to try Intuniv, a non-stimulant medication. It has worked wonderfully for her – her opposition has almost completely disappeared and she is much less hyperactive. She is still very, very active and fortunately she loves sports. Even with the medication she is sometimes disorganized at school and distracting to others accordng to her teachers. I know some doctors advise using Intuniv as a complement to a stimulant based medication, but for now I think her most difficult challenges are being addressed with just Intuniv.
    Best wishes.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @Mary Thanks for reading Mary. I believe every parent has to do what’s best for him/herself and family, and of course, your children. I am still frightened when I read all the potential side effects many of the ADHD meds have. It sounds like your daughter is doing well, though. Best wishes to you, too.

      Reply
  34. live4hope (Edit) Report

    Thanks Karla and everyone on here. My daughter is 10 and our psychologist hasn’t officially diagnosed her with ADHD/ADD but she has been tested as gifted/talented, which tends to correlate with ADHD. She did see a psychiatrist a couple years ago but she didn’t think it was ADHD at the time.  She mostly has trouble with her focus at home more than in school. She is also very argumentative with her Dad and I much more than with other adults. I would love a support group for this and have been searching for one all over but can’t seem to find anything. We are trying to decide if she needs medication but I would still like an official diagnosis first before we can make our decision. A few supplements that are supposed to be beneficial to children with ADHD and the part of the brain (frontal cortex) that needs support are Vitamin B Complex, Omega 3, D3, and L-Tyrosine. My daughter did take an omega 3 supplement a few years ago (Barlean’s smoothies – Amazon) and seemed to do well with that. We had to stop though since she was getting tired of the taste (she is super picky). Now she takes a multi-vitamin that seems to be tolerable – Smarty Pants w/ omega 3 and vitamin D. She takes 4 in the morning. It isn’t anywhere near the therapeutic dosage of the 4 mentioned above but I’m glad she can handle them. I’m curious what vitamins/supplements and dosages and/or medications? 

    Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @live4hope Thanks for reading. For my daughter, eliminating most gluten and artificial/processed foods from her diet has also helped her behavior at times. She takes a supplement called Focus Attention, by Nature’s Sunshine, that we get at our wellness center. I have also been reading about diet and how food coloring contributes to hyperactivity and oppositionality for many kids. Check out this article: http://www.sott.net/article/223226-Study-Cutting-Out-Suspect-Foods-Could-Help-Calm-ADHD-Children
      My doctor has been telling me how diet is such a significant factor in kids with ADHD. It’s not easy getting them to eat the stuff that’s best for them, though! But, every little change helps in some way. Best wishes.

      Reply
    • ColtsMere (Edit) Report

      @live4hope What you’re talking about is having a “twice-exceptional” child.  This is one who is gifted while also having a learning difference, such as ADHD, dyslexia, etc.  Beware that often profoundly gifted children come off as ADHD because they need constant stimulation – think about how jack russel terriers are known to get wild, or even nasty, if they are not in an appropriately stimulating environment.  That said, it is another “blessing” of ADHD that a significant portion of these kids are very, very bright.  
      All three of my guys (20, 17, and 14) are Mensans, have ADHD and the third ODD.  Yes, they’re brilliant, and at this very moment, I don’t know if the third guy is going to pass 9th grade.  Not because he doesn’t know anything…it’s because he can’t keep track of a piece of paper to save his life and he basically thinks most of schooling is a joke and the whole system is a hypocritical construct meant to destroy imaginative thought.  Ugh…
      PLEASE investigate the Davidson Insitute for Talent Development.  This organization was created to support the profoundly gifted, is free, and provides AMAZING support to kids and families.  I credit their family counselor (you get one assigned to you) and her dialing in to IEP meetings as setting up consultations with nationally known experts with helping us get our first guy through school. Their parenting list helped me cope through all of those school years. DITD.org. Even if you don’t end up as a member, there are free resources available at their website for kids, parents and teachers.  Also, don’t miss hoagies.com.
      One second on the soapbox…teachers are generally not trained to handle gifted teaching, much less twice exceptional students.  There is a shocking bias against struggling, bright children.  You will need to leap on teachers and administrators who are ready to label bright kids lazy when they cannot “produce.”  Even if they have an IEP, teachers will think they can “cure” this laziness by being completely inflexible.  This is dangerous and discriminatory to our children. That’s why self-education and data gathering for you and your child will be so important.  Every now and again, you’ll find an administrator or teacher who has heard of twice-exceptionality – when you do that’s a blessing – at least they’re usually ready to learn.  Whether they will be effective is another issue.

      Reply
  35. erica (Edit) Report

    Hi Karla, 
    Thanks so much for writing this article. We’ve been hesitant to go the medication route with our 11 yo son, but his impulsivity is starting to really affect his relationships with family and friends and affect his success at school, so we’re investigating all kinds of potential ways to help.  I’m curious what kind of evaluations you’re describing. Is your daughter being seen by a psychiatrist? Who is conducting these neurotransmitter tests, and how?
    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @erica Thanks for reading, Erica! Right now, we go to a Wellness Center where my daughter (and I) both receive chiropractic care. They have a medical division that does all the testing. We have both been tested for food sensitivities and found that a mostly gluten-free diet helps my daughter quite a bit. She also doesn’t eat much dairy and I try to eliminate as many processed foods as possible. A psychiatrist diagnosed her and is the one who recommended medication, but we are opting for the holistic route, with the support of the doctors at our wellness center. Their support has been critical in helping me find alternatives to meds. The food sensitivity test is a blood test, and the neurotransmitter test is a urine test. Very simple! I am hoping to get results this week to see what our other options are. If you can find a wellness center to support your efforts, I highly recommend it! Best wishes for you and your son.

      Reply
  36. Alexander R (Edit) Report

    My daughter is 19 with a DMV learners permit to drive. Ari. was diagnosed at 7 with ADD/ADHD. We took notice when she had social problems with friends and we thought she was being unjustified in her relationships ,we thought the kids she once knew were being catty, cliquish and snotty towards her. The day came when we discovered that our dearly loved at 15 was cutting herself at the wrist, ankles and thighs. we took her to our local hospital where CPS intervened and put her on a 10 hr. 5150 hold,we were devastated. My wife and I would huddle and cry. We took her to a Doctor that specializes in that field and we set Ari. up with a very good Therapist and our daughter leveled with her everyday issues.Now she has a boyfriend and they are both attending separate Colleges and have goals for the future, however it is not over because it seems when on hurdle is leaped the next one is a little higher with a shorter stride.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Alexander R Thank you for sharing your story. I am happy to hear you found a good therapist and your daughter is doing well. Wishing you the best in the future, too.

      Reply
  37. Kathy6 (Edit) Report

    As the mother of a 42 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 9, I found Ritalin essential to him becoming the man he is today.  I did parent counseling at the hospital where I was told when he was 2 that he would probably need medication for school but specific parenting skills would also be helpful.  At 9, he had a 30 second attention span and emotional issues stemming from constantly being reprimanded.  I tried the Feinstein diet as well as other diets, but found that he could eat all the candy in the world without an affect, but give him a can of Spaghettios and he was off the walls for 3 days.  We never ate canned food at our house, but my mother-in-law fed it to him at her house until after repeatedly asking she not do so, I called her and told her if she did it again, I would send him back to her until it was out of his system. I shopped about once a month when out of essentials as it took 3 days to get him off the ceiling.  When overstimulated he could not even look at me despite holding his face in my hands and getting my face close to his.  He needed an inflexible routine.  Any disturbance in his routine would cause overstimulation.  Holidays, particularly Halloween and Christmas were horrible on him.  He barely collected candy on Halloween.  He was too busy running, hiding in bushes and jumping out at other kids to collect candy. Christmas Eve was a gift fest with my in-laws, so he was usually physically sick as well as off the walls for Christmas Day.  A two minute time out in a half bath was essential to giving him time to regroup himself.  The half bath was suggested and used as it was the room providing the least amount of distraction.  His bedroom was in a light tan color with brown paneling on the lower part of the wall as he was a head banger from the day we brought him home from the hospital until around 18.  It held minimal furnishings and wall décor so as not to stimulate him. 
    A sense of humor with an ADHD child is essential.  I view him as my roller coaster child.  Although a nightmare to raise, he also taught me the beauty in a blade of grass.  He was reading at 4 but barely graduated high school.  I spent the entire time of the first Star Wars movie at the back of the theater chasing him up and down side and back aisles.  I saw one scene in the entire movie, yet the next day he was quoting dialogue to the teachers in his day care!  Frequently, I would pick him up with one teacher on either side trying to keep him coloring on the paper and not the table or elsewhere.  He could hear a song once and know it by heart, but had to relearn how to print the alphabet every year for the first three years of school!  At 13, he sat down and played the drums without ever having a lesson.  He played so well the neighbors enjoyed it, and we even had a couple of people stop their cars and come to the house to listen to him.  His brain is truly fascinating to this day.  Ritalin gave him the ability to focus.  It was explained to me that noise and distractions came into his  brain at the same volume.  The teacher speaking to him was as loud as the kid whispering at the back of the room, someone writing on a piece of paper, walking in the hallway, a horn in the distance, car traffic, etc.  Ritalin allowed the part of the brain that filters noise and distractions to work.  He was in counseling from the age of 9 until 15 to develop certain skills, such as fine motor, organizational skills, distance perception and to address emotional issues.  Today, he still struggles with a hair trigger temper, but he has been happily married and devoted to his high school sweetheart for 17 years.  She was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.  It is my understanding that today they believe ADHD always has an accompanying mental disorder.  His and his wife’s are depression for which they take medication as do both their teenage children.  Their son was diagnosed early with ADHD and although he clearly marches to his own drummer, at 16 he has always been in advanced classes, will be taking college classes this fall and is a star football player.  He shows signs of mild OCD but is comfortable with who he is.  Their daughter is also a successful student and the entire family is involved in community activities, the school and volunteer to care for pets on a regular basis.  Although they struggle to earn a living, I would say that my son and his family are valued, involved members of their community.  My son is a devoted and highly successful son, brother, husband, father, friend, and citizen.  For me, that’s a happily ever after ending that would not have been possible without the Ritalin.  Everything else that followed and worked flowed from first providing him the ability to focus.   I hope this helps someone

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Kathy6 Thank you for sharing your story, Kathy! Agreed – a sense of humor is absolutely ESSENTIAL as a parent of any child. Although my daughter is sometimes the source of my frustration, she is very often the source of adding humor to my day, and i love her for her unique perspective on life! It sounds like you and your family have a very happy life, after all. That in itself is a great lesson.

      Reply
    • ColtsMere (Edit) Report

      Kathy6 Oh my goodness!  A sense of humor is absolutely critical!  I agree!  As crazy as my three have made me at times, we try also to recognize the gifts of ADHD – noticing and squeezing the juice out of every thing and every moment, an ability to make endless connections, exuberance and intensity, ands that sense of humor!  Your house was as my house currently is…  I absolutely agree with your approach and the importance medication of the right type and at the right time can have toward healthy development in all areas for children, adolescents and adults with ADHD!

      Reply
  38. Ann (Edit) Report

    My son is 13 going through puberty now and has had the worse year in school. He has adhd and odd. We are going back to conseling next week and think his meds need to be changed. He is having major outbursts getting physical, hyperventilating. I am feeling helpless. Your article helps just knowing there are others out there. Need to find a local group, just feel alone thank you again.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @Ann I feel for you, Ann. It sounds like you are doing all you can for your son. Hang in there. We are all here to support you. I hope you can find a local group as well. You’re not alone in your struggles, that’s for sure. Wishing you find some answers and peace on your journey.

      Reply
  39. ColtsMere (Edit) Report

    I have ADHD, my husband has ADD, and our three boys have ADHD and are twice-exceptional (profoundly gifted and learning disabled).  Son number three (now 14) was/is ODD, and life has been challenging to say the least.  They all were medicated through elementary and into middle school, mainly for safety reasons.  Also, because youngest wouldn’t ever fall asleep – his brain NEVER stops!  In any case, they are all off meds now, except for my husband, who really needs the support to focus at work.  Now, off meds, everyone is happy…even though life can be a little crazy from time to time (read always).

    The two most helpful perspectives I’ve come up with to manage our life and raising these boys is that a primary need is to establish trust.  Even if you argue and things get dramatic, if the child has an innate trust that you really do have their best interests at heart, you really do love them unconditionally, you really will go to bat for them no matter what and that you’ll actually listen to what they say…you will get to the teenage years not without struggle, but you will be able to handle difficult issues.  The other idea is to realize that their trajectory through life is not going to look like yours or any other kid’s.  Our children are different, and allowing them to develop as they must, learn experientially (even if it’s more painful that way!) and move through life according to their own personalities/abilities/maturity, etc. is what will help them grow into healthy, sane, contributing adults, as well as help YOU to keep your sanity.  Throw out the yardstick with which you measure yourself against other parents and your kids against other kids – your parenting is entirely different.  By the way, this approach will NOT make it easy to get through school – which is the great masher-of-individuality – however, success at school does not necessarily equate to creating individual, thinking, healthy, well-adjusted people.  

    All my best to all of you.  I’m not entirely out of the woods yet, but with my guys 20, 17 and 14, I can say we’re at a good place, and I’m raising good men.  They’ll need to marry organized women (at least I hope they will), but they really are interesting, kind and amazing people!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      ColtsMere Thank you so much for that perspective! It is one that is not vocalized enough, and one that I always need to be reminded of – especially, “throw out that yardstick”.  My dad often reminds me, when I am frustrated or trying to help my child in a way I see fit, “she is on her own path”. That she is! Like your children and all of our kids! Thank you for sharing your insights and advice. Best wishes to all of you!

      Reply
  40. KathrynRaymond (Edit) Report

    I am in the exact same boat. Single mom with an 8 year old daughter with ADHD. Right now we’re doing a little bit of everything to treat her (and me!). We live in Raleigh near family so that’s helpful most of the time, although they’re not always the most patient with her and I occasionally feel judged, like they think if I just did this or that differently, her behavior would be drastically different. Trust me, I’ve tried everything, as I’m sure you have too and know what I’m saying. Thanks for being open and honest. If you form an online support group beyond responding to this blog, I’d love to join. Sometimes what we need most is the sympathetic ear if a friend who knows exactly what we’re going through. And a glass of wine. 🙂

    Reply
    • karla Report

      KathrynRaymond Thanks, Kathryn! I am laughing at your last sentence because I can totally relate to that as well. 😉 You bring up an important point – how family and friends who are trying to be helpful, want to apply logic and reasoning to a situation in which sometimes logic and reasoning don’t apply. I have heard plenty of “maybe she just needs more sleep” or “maybe you should try this” etc. You are not alone! You’re right – and sometimes you want to tell these well-meaning people, “trust me! I’ve tried everything!” Best wishes to you and your daughter. I’ll keep you posted if I find a venue for the support group. You’re in!

      Reply
  41. marycox46 (Edit) Report

    Thank you for sharing your story. My 13 yr old son was diagnosed last year with dyslexia. When we sat down with the counselor to go over his results and all the different things that we would be trying to implement, she actually told me that most students that have dyslexia have ADD/ADHD. They immediately wanted us to get our son tested so that they could put him on medication. They were not too happy with me when I said that I did not mind him being tested but we would not be medicating him unless that was the last option. Turns out he is borderline for ADD. Even with him being “borderline” they are constantly trying to get us to put him on medication. It is really frustrating to constantly have to fight with other adults over my child’s right to be himself.  Good luck!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @marycox46 Amazing isn’t’ it? You said it well, “constantly have to fight…over my child’s right to be himself.” We had a similar experience when my daughter was in second grade, but fortunately, her third grade teacher was very patient and willing to think outside the box and work together with me to help her stay focused in school. An understanding teacher could make so much of a difference! I continually express to my daughter that although she absolutely needs to follow rules and obey teachers and do what is expected of her in class, it’s also OK to be herself and to find an outlet for that. For her, dancing and doing any kind of artwork really helps. Good luck to you, too!

      Reply
  42. Becky (Edit) Report

    We have a 12 year old son with ADHD anxiety and sensory disorders. He started occupational therapy at age 5 that focuses on building up his core muscles and helps with gross motor planning. This has been the best treatment because of the heavy body work our son gets the support we receive from his OT and the knowledge she has conveyed to us regarding the connection between the brain and the body. when this wasn’t enough we started trying medicines. none have worked. we have tried 15 different ADHD meds and we have changed diets, with no help really coming from either. so I’m in a camp possibly like other parents who were willing to try meds when the other therapies weren’t enough. we’ve just learned about a food based Omega 3 ADHD treatment approved by the FDA that is a prescription called Vayarin.our son has been taking it daily for almost 2 months with no side effects or more importantly no improvements, yet. but we know that omega 3 helps these kids brains so we plan to continue this. I’m also seeking a therapist who can do CBT with him starting in the fall when he enters 7th grade because now that puberty is in the pictureI’m feeling less able to connect and reach him. thank you for providing an online place to share and support

    Reply
  43. Mary (Edit) Report

    Good morning all, 
    I have often thought that a support group for parent of kids with ADHD and ODD would be a great way to effectively communicate with other parents who also struggle, so I am very much in! Our 14 yr old daughter was diagnosed 5 yrs ago with  an non verbal learning disorder NOS, which presents as ADHD and ODD. It has been a rollercoaster, we’ve tried it all. After 5yrs of being on several combinations of ADHD meds, we finally took her off of them but continued with antidepressant/antianxiety meds and it has made all the difference so far. The ADHD meds works  at times, but inevitably it wold only last for a while and then we’d have to change them up again. After much research and horrible struggles over the past year, I have discovered that some ADHD drugs can  make symptoms worse, as was our case. They heightened her anxiety, which made life a living nightmare for a while. The research that changed my mind on ADHD drugs for my child was written by a Dr. Laura Prager out of Mass General Child Psychiatry ER. Her theory after seeing many misdiagnosed kids was that the underlying cause many (not all) times was anxiety. Check her out,I found that she really spoke to our case.I came across her info on a great website that I have used for years, Child MInd Institute. We have been in family therapy, as well as her own personal therapy for all of these years and quite frankly, we would have been in much worse shape without in. I highly recommend it. Cognitive therapy as well as DBT…Currently using antianxiety/antidepressants meds along with a life coach, mindfulness, meditation and yoga this summer. My deepest support to all of you, as everyone’s situation is different yet with similar scenarios, so good luck everyone.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @Mary Thank you, Mary. That is great information and advice! My daughter does have a lot of anxiety at times, too. She bites her nails and worries about things that may or may not happen in the future. I’ll be sure to check out Dr. Prager. Thanks! Best wishes, to you, too.

      Reply
  44. Becky's blog (Edit) Report

    I am currently raising a teenage son with ODD and ADHD. I am well educated on the subject and have had my son in cognitive behavior therapy. We have been through hell since he turned 14. He is now 18. For our son, medication is a must. It is based on quality of life. His meds help ease some of his ODD characteristics and help him to have better relationships with people at home and at school. He fought taking meds in middle school but now knows they really do help him and he chooses to take them. An antianxiety /anti depressant med has helped as well in more recent years.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      Becky’s blog Every child is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As a parent, i am learning, that we each strive to do the best we can at any given moment under all kinds of circumstances, and that’s a good thing! Best wishes.

      Reply
  45. PT mom (Edit) Report

    I am a single mother of two kids, ages 8 and 6, with ADHD. I found great help at a local university, where they have a program for ADHD that tackles the kids with behavioral interventions, as well as the parents with parenting classes focussing on ADHD behaviors managemetn. It has been great not only for me but for the kids also. They have learned how to respond and adapt to different situations and self control.
    Also, another great source of information is CHADD. You can become a member online, and they have tons of information about ADHD that will help.
    Attending parenting classes has been so important to be able to have different tools on how to manage the kids. And it works! Because when we don’t use the right interventions, we are worsening the problem.
    Also, remember sometimes medication is necessary, but usually it is used for the school environment. If your kids are falling behhind in school because of their inability to focus, then medication might be an answer, but only for the school.

    Reply
    • karla Report

      @PT mom Thanks for the comment. I am a member of CHADD, too, and agree it is helpful and supportive in so many ways. I also believe that, as a parent of an ADD/ADHD child, you absolutely have to learn how to parent differently and find different ways to manage your children and to teach them how to manage impulsive behavior and self control. Best wishes.

      Reply
    • ColtsMere (Edit) Report

      @PT mom I like and agree with your experiences.  Using the right interventions as parents is so important.  I also wish there wasn’t so much guilt surrounding medications.  My 3 were on meds through middle school and one into college.  At this point, though, they’re all off.  Medicating and now choosing not to was/is the correct decision for each boy at the appropriate time and to the appropriate circumstances.  As parents, that’s our job – to evaluate and then constantly re-evaluate!

      Reply
  46. CPA mom (Edit) Report

    Thank you for your article. I could have signed my name to it, except my daughter is 6. Thank you for penning the thoughts I have struggled with. I read your comments below about the dopamine levels and trying to holistically manage them. I would love to hear more about that as you walk down that road. We are using natural supplements and have stayed off of meds, at least to this point. It is tempting though at times!

    Reply
    • karla Report

      CPA mom hank you for reading CPA mom! We are awaiting results now on the neurotransmitter tests, but I will certainly keep you posted when we find out. I also learned it could be a low serotonin level as well. I completely understand you temptations to medicate, as the tough times make it seem like the best way to handle it. It is a struggle I face, too. Let’s keep figuring out alternatives!! Wishing you well.

      Reply
  47. ChavaB (Edit) Report

    What an insightful, helpful post! I really love the idea of starting a support group. I can’t tell you how much I identify with what you said; we’ve done the diet changes and the holistic tuff, somewhat successfully! No meds here, at this point anyway…

    Reply
    • karla Report

      ChavaB Thank you for reading, ChavaB! It is crazy that when you try to take a holistic approach, you begin feeling like you’re alone in the world. It may not be the easiest route (for parents or kids) but to me, it still seems to be the best long-term option. Right now we are working with our health and wellness center and awaiting results for neurological tests. The thought is once we determine what chemical my daughter is lacking (i.e. dopamine, which is so common with kids with ADHD) then we can give her natural supplements to help that. My wellness center is focused on getting to the root of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms. Maybe you can find one in your area and try that route? I will keep you posted on our results. As a mom, I just want to keep trying until we discover what works. 🙂 Best of luck to you!!

      Reply
      • ChavaB (Edit) Report

        Thanks so much for the well wishes! I feel like so many kids in my kids class (according to the moms) are medicated.. Those neurological tests sound really interesting! Is there a supplement you can take for dopamine? I have also heard of toxicity due to aluminum contributing to ADHD, as well.

        Reply
        • karla Report

          ChavaB I know what you mean – I hear about all the kids and young adults on meds as well. I believe there is a supplement(s) to boost dopamine levels if that is the case. Once I find out the results and the options, I will let you know!

          Reply
          • ColtsMere (Edit) Report

            karlasoccisomers ChavaB I agree wholeheartedly that meds are over-prescribed for active children, or for parents who want to “supercharge” their children for success at school.  However, I think it’s also important to note that for some children, medication is a viable and important choice for both their safety and their self-esteem. 

            When my three year old told me about his “two-brains” the one that knew what was right and what to do and the other, that wouldn’t stop running and doing bad things, we knew it was time to look into diagnosing his literal wall-bouncing, impulsive behavior.  ADHD runs in the family, and we knew what we were looking at.  That said, we still took our time in diagnosing and it was two years before he got meds and then a while to get the dosage correct.  I’ll never forget when he told us at five that he finally felt like “his real self.”  Once we had three boys, all diagnosed, the impulsivity was a real safety issue as they played together; so was school and social development – all were helped by medications.  

            The meds gave them a chance to learn (and me a chance to actively teach) coping strategies and social cues that they rely on now that they are older and off meds.  They still need correction from time to time, but they needed that support while they were younger.

            I’m all for alternatives, if they work and you can work them.  However, I don’t think any judgement should be made negatively or positively toward parents who choose either path or a combination of paths.  As parents, we have to make the best decisions we have based on our own study and knowledge of our kids.  Why does one need to be the correct, or even the best, way?

            Best to all…and peace!  🙂

            Reply
            • KateKaufmanJohnson (Edit) Report

              I so agree… I struggled for 2+ years wanting to avoid meds, and tried diet changes , relaxation , play therapy , mobile and outpatient therapy before settling with our current counselor and psychiatrist team. For us, the ODD component is even stronger than the ADHD and the impact it has on our older child is very significant. .it feels like a nightmare you can never wake up from.
              I am a single mother raising two daughters ages nine and 12 after losing my husband four years ago. Are younger daughter was adopted after fostering her for two years. Her birth parent background includes ADD and intermittent explosive disorder with bipolar. After my husband’s death our daughters issues became much more pronounced and difficult to deal with. We have been trying meds for the last year or so with mixed results. Right now, the only thing I am relying on is prayer. . It would be an honor to be part of a support group where we could share each others successes and trials.

            • SharonSawers (Edit) Report

              We have a son that was diagnosed with adhd at around 7 – always knew he was harder to parent than my friends children – it was always him that was in trouble – lucky he wAs also quite adorable. His school were the ones that encouraged us to seek help – we just thought we had a difficult child – didn’t know much as he was the only one. So he was diagnosed adhd – long story short – we eventually put him on Ritalin after a lot of soul searching tears and struggles with guilt. Once dose was right we are really happy – school is better – he is able to be a nice person without being rude – oppositional – slamming doors etc etc – he can shine his inner kindness and the medication has been a godsend for us – gives us an oasis of time where we can breath without being tense around our son x.

            • ColtsMere (Edit) Report

              SharonSawers I understand the guilt.  Even when I knew the meds were important for us all, I still struggled.  The thought that made it better was realizing that ADHD is a MEDICAL condition.  If our sons were diabetic, we wouldn’t have refused them insulin; if they had a broken leg, we wouldn’t feel guilty about providing crutches.  We are programmed not to want to medicate long-term, or even short-term, but some conditions warrant it.  
              Human experience is so different from person to person; this is why I have a hard time when people say that ADHD is a lie, or that parents who medicate are lazy, or that a holistic approach is mis-informed hippie stuff.  As parents, it is up to us to become informed about the options and make the best decisions we can for our own situation and the people we love.

    • karla Report

      Amber Estamponi Thank you, Amber! I hope I can help other parents who might be feeling this way, too. Thanks for reading!!

      Reply

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