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Needing some insight into the world of childhood ADHD….

Needing some insight into the world of childhood ADHD….2010-09-29T14:56:11+00:00

The Forums Forums What is it? ADHD/ADD in Childhood Needing some insight into the world of childhood ADHD….

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    Post count: 14

    Hi everyone…

    I was one of those little girls that didn’t get noticed in school……instead I was told I should try harder, worker harder, speak up…..I was considered “shy and quiet”. Ok, so maybe I am a little shy. But I have plenty to say. And, as I’m sure we all probably did at some point, when I was first diagnosed……my mind took me back to my old school and wondered why nobody noticed what was going on with me so I could have showed them all my true potential. Fast forward to age 28, and a diagnosis of low-grade depression as well as ADD…..and a family that includes a husband and three children.

    My son, who is 6 years old as of today, has always been extrememly active. He was my only child to induce labour on his own…..and was a very pudgy, very fussy, very sensitive baby. From the moment he learned how to walk…..he was gone! From then on….I could not get him to sit still for longer than 5 minutes. I kept him in the crib for as long as I possibly could…..until he learned how to get out of that. In any case, the reason I am writing this message today is because this little lovable sensitive sweet little boy would stay awake for 24 hours a day if I allowed him to. He started Grade 1 recently, and seems to be doing ok. (I desperately wish I could be a fly on the wall in that classroom!!!) Through the summer, his sleeping patterns were unsatisfactory to say the least. He would drift off to sleep usually between 10-11 p.m. and that was with constant reminders and a few harsh words from both myself and his dad. He HATES to sleep by himself……and because I don’t have enough patience to lay down with him until he falls asleep, I usually let him fall asleep on the couch and then carry him to his bed. So…not only does he fall asleep late, but he is also an early riser. He has never, not ever, slept later than 7:30. People have been critical of my parenting with him, saying that I am too soft with him, and that he just needs a good “kick in the butt”, and that I let him get away with too much, and blah blah blah. I have only recently realized that his self-esteem is beginning to suffer, and that although he does act out frequently, it is really only a cover for deep feelings of fear and anxiety. Back to the point: I brought him to the doctor a few weeks ago to ask what I could do to help him get his required amount of sleep. My doctor put in a referral to a pediatrician, and advised me to give him children’s gravol in the meantime. The one time I tried it, it had the complete opposite effect on his brain. Never again!! I eventually found a product called Tranquil Sleep; it is a natural supplement to combat anxiety and sleeplessness…..it is for adults, but I give him half the adult dosage and it seems to work for the most part.

    Over the last month or so, he and his 3 yr. old sister have been waking up at some point between 2 and 4 a.m., and proceed to make treats in the kitchen, play school in their toyroom, get the dog out of his bed and play with him. You name it…..they’ll try it. The first time they did this, I figured they were excited as school had just started and stuff. I have noticed a pattern now….it happens at least once or twice a week. I believe that if I wasn’t sleepin on the couch and heard them playing….they would probably stay awake for the rest of the night. I am not sure what I am asking here……but I am concerned as the dosage that I give my son should technically be enough to make a “normal” person sleep peacefully through the night. (I myself have to take Trazodone in an effort to make me go to sleep otherwise I, too, would be awake all night) As for my 3 yr. old, I don’t yet know if she is going to have the same issues as him, or if this is just a phase of the 3 yr. old child. She is incredibly defiant and stubborn, as he was and is, but is a very sweet little girl on good days, and I swear I’m not just saying this because they’re my children.

    It should also be noted that their daddy was away all summer working, being home only on the weekends, and although their patterns have generally been the same, it has been significantly worse without daddy being around through the week.

    One more quick note about my son and school: Last year, his kindergarten teacher agreed with us to put in a request for a speech and language assessment. Needless to say, 8 months later we are still waiting for this to be done. He has trouble with the letter “r”, so for example if he says the word “bedroom”, it sounds like “bedwoom”. There are times when even I have to ask him to repeat what he is saying because I cannot understand. Also, because he is 6 and in grade one now, I believe he should be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet. He can’t always do this. I met with his teacher on the 2nd week of school to inform her of my concerns, and also to inform her that we are awaiting an assessment for him, and she was very vague and stated that he is a sweet little boy in school, sits quietly, helps other students, and asks for help when he needs it. I asked her if she thought he was behind in his reading, as he can’t read yet unless it’s his name. She only stated that “every child is treated individually.” That’s great, but doesn’t answer my question.

    I guess what I am saying is….how can I help my son? How can I give him the best chance he’s got to be successful? How can a parent curb such a young child’s huge amount of anxiety? How about my 3 yr. old? Do I just wait and observe with her? Do I just resign to the sleepless nights and the sleeping aids? I’m feeling so confused and it’s not as if I have a wonderful helpful family support system here. They all say he’s a boy, and boys are different, and he’ll be fine. Call it mother’s intuition, but he is more than just different. He is special, and he needs our help and our understanding. He needs someone to stand up for him and to advocate for him. I also have a 7 yr. old daughter, who was an angel baby and never ever has had sleeping problems…..although she reminds me so much of me that it’s scary. What if all 3 of my kids have this???

    Ok…I’m done. Thanks so much for any and all ideas….suggestions…insight. I just don’t want my kids to go through what I went through…..I want them to have confidence and a healthy self-esteem…..as I am sure any parent wants.

    Thanks everyone…



    Post count: 14413

    Hey Gracious-again… :)=

    Well here are my thoughts on your situation:

    Now I want you to know I can relate to your concern over your son, I am a mother and I have ADD; and I have experienced behavioral and developmental issues with my own child.

    The first thing I want to say, is to make sure you are looking at your children as separate beings; with their own unique brains and challenges. It is often very easy for us parents to tack our own problems onto our children and assume that the way that we are ourselves, is the reason why our children are the way they are themselves. However, kids have their own experiences; and although their genetic make up is similar to yours; it is uniquely different.

    I think it is important to look and see if there may be some other cause for his anxiety or speech issues. Looking deeper into your son’s world and his good and bad experiences could explain these issues. My kiddo also had a thing when learning to speak – from the ages of 3-7- with “th” and “F” sounds. They’d get mixed up. These have cleared on their own, and sometimes we all have our quirks when we’re young. I used to say “I founted it!” instead of ” I found it!…

    I suggest learning some about childhood development. From what I learned, boys often potty train later than girls and aren’t developmentally ready for kindergarten at age 5, that is just the way that they are wired. These first years in school, children are having to deal with a lot. New social rules, and learning brand new and abstract concepts like numbers and letters and how they work together. That’s a lot for these little people, who not so long ago were toddlers. When you talk about your son’s letter recognition, it may just be ok. He may still be trying to wrap his brain around letters. We all learn differently- and not necessarily on track with a man made schedule . There are “standard deviations of the norm” so to speak- I couldn’t memorize the order of the months in a year as a kid- but I eventually wrapped my brain around it…

    Maybe you could play letter games with him: Flash cards with prizes? Make it a game- when something is fun- we tend to remember it easier.

    We all have our own sleep patterns and requirements. He may just be a kid who only needs 7-8 hours of sleep. My kiddo since the first sleep through night of my kiddo’s life, has been a 9-10 hour sleeper. I would sleep 10-12 hours a day if I had a choice. I looooove the feeling of sleep. Also I know that not having the patience to change his sleep and tackling that task seems hopeless, but I can tell you that working on this now- will help out so much later, and once you have dealt with it you won’t have to again. There are many methods to deal with this in a peaceful manner. I would suggest a bed time routine with a story, comforting and relaxing; a special blankey and stuffed animal to help w/the anxiety, a night light. Talking to your son about how he feels, comforting him about the sleeping arrangements would help too.

    Have you ever watched Super Nanny? This show deals with behavior and bedtime issues, and actually helped me in dealing with my kiddo.

    What I did with my child was the slow with-drawl method. (Something I read about.) First, I’d lay down or sit next to my child and rubbed their back. A couple days later, I’d move a few feet away from the bed, then couple days later to the door, then a couple days later, to the hall way, and then completely out of sight, all the while reading to myself or singing a lullaby. This way my child knew that I wasn’t vanishing, and wasn’t completely freaked out. My child was 2 years old at the time, so I don’t know if this needs to be adjusted for your son. But let me tell you, once my kid was used to sleeping on their own- my life was so much easier at night. There are probably some good books at the library on this kind of stuff too.

    But your 3 year old is way to young to be thinking it’s okay to have free reign over the house at night, and it is dangerous. That to me sounds like a “Alright! I can get away with this!” kind of thing. Having clear boundaries, expectations and consequences for your children, can really help with behavior like this. I’m not advocating for spanking or yelling here either… I’m talking about stuff like “You got out of bed, and that’s not ok- you do not get to watch sponge bob tomorrow. If you get up again, there will be another consequence.” Taking away privleges, and not things that affect them emotionally on a security level is important too. Just as important is Positive Reinforcement. Star charts with prizes for good behavior really helped my kiddo overcome bad behaviors, and helped my kiddo learn to do things like brushing teeth on their own.

    All that being said, listen to your intuition- you know your son better than anyone- but be careful not to lump everything onto “something’s wrong, I have ADD- so he must too.”

    It is so good that you care so much about your children, and want to help them. Your kid’s don’t need a “kick in the butt”. IMO, that is ignorant advice. It is a good thing that you are paying attention to how your kids are doing in life!

    Read some books, join parent support group, and find out if there is an organization in your area that provides free childhood development information and parenting classes. Those are some good ideas too.

    Keep being a good mom. Once these things click for you, it’ll be second nature. I have been there myself as a parent and with my child’s behavior when it was really challenging.


    Post count: 14413

    look into melatonin and see if it is something you would like to try with your son.

    teachers have to be careful what they say to parents and how they word it, and the 2nd week of school may not be the best time to ask about how your child is doing, the teacher hasnt had a chance to get to know your child yet and your child hasnt settled in yet.

    the way you were in school sounds a lot like me when i was in school. im 30 and was just diagnosed with adhd inattentive type.


    Post count: 14413

    Hi gracious!

    Don’t know if this helps, but I also am not good with falling asleep and never was.

    My parents used to let me fall asleep in front of the TV with the whole family walking around doing their own thing etc etc ..lots of action and I always found this relaxing.

    It stresses me out to be put in a dark, silent room and just lay there. I always have to go to bed reading (falling asleep in the book) or in front of the TV, usually sitting up and nodding off in the middle of a sentence.

    I’ve also been an early riser..as a child and even today. One evening I fell asleep on the couch too early, 8:30 pm and woke up at 3:30 in the morning, very refreshed, full of beans and ready to go! I went downstairs and painted the bathroom…had it done by 7:30 and when my husband woke up…Ta Da!

    As a kid was up starting around 4 am and the only rule I had from my mother was that I had to stay in my room, not wake anyone up and be quiet. I learned to occupy myself and not bug anyone else. I’m still like that today..have a hard time staying asleep sometimes past 4 am but never have slept in past 7:30 am ever..(even when I’ve gone to bed at 3:30 am)…I get most of my paperwork done before 8 am!

    For the anxiety, I find that I HAVE to run myself like a dog physically in order to relax. Really …really be physical. I always thought the anxiety was because my body just wants to move all the time. I am much calmer when physically very active during the day.

    My mother, in coping with Four kids with ADD/HD had one rule…all kids Outside! (we lived in the country and could run through the fields all day)

    Some nights I’m just not tired and don’t really sleep. The main thing is that my mother drilled the ‘don’t wake anyone else up’ thing into my head’ from day one when I was up in the middle of the night. Still was able to do my own thing but not get murdered by my sibs or parents!

    This rule has kept me from aggrivating my poor sleeping husband into divorcing me!

    I hope this helps you a bit maybe seeing it from the adult version of the weird sleeping patterns. : )


    Post count: 121

    hi everyone! been gone a while. lots of busy busy stuff to do. *sigh*

    hello gracious, i have not yet gone through all the responses, but i just wanted to mention that you’ve described me as a kid (heck even as an adult).

    the HUGE thing that really helped was schedules. maintaining a very consistent schedule will assist him in knowing that certain things need to happen at certain times. an egg timer helps. set the timer for 5 minutes and say “when this timer goes off, it’s time for bath.”… or whatever task is coming up next. set a consistent routine for bed time. bath, teeth, hair, read a book, and time for sleep.

    along with that, you can set up a system like we have with our kids, “toy jail” (high up in our hall closet). they have 3 chances to straighten behavior and then it’s movies, books, toys… whatever they LOVE and keeps them up, is put into toy jail for an allotted amount of time. if they ask for the item we revisit the reason it is in there. if they ask us about it again, we tack on a day. when we take the item out, we revisit why it was in there and we always discuss a better way to handle the situation that got them there in the first place. this works for any age. it even works for my oldest girl who has down syndrome. woohoo! hahahaha and yes, i have stuffed the entire closet with all of their toys and movies and they were miserable for a the 3 days that mommy did that. but they have yet to repeat that behavior again!

    there is always incentives as well. placing a reward system is AWESOME. it even works for me to this day and i’m 32.

    my girl gets ice cream friday if she gets smiley faces all week at school in her planner. she can also opt to do a “friday night sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed”, in lieu of the ice cream.

    so that’s all i have for the brief moment i’m on here. schedules, bedtime routine, rewards and consequences. it’s a small start. and you HAVE to be consistent with all of them. good luck!

    oh! and don’t beat yourself up over anything. none of us were born with manuals. so our folks, like us, have to learn as we go. fun, huh?!


    Post count: 14413

    Wow I kinda giggled as I was reading your introduction. My brother and I, he’s 2 years younger then me were exactly like that! We would get up before anyone else and hard to tell what we’d get into! We made breakfast one morning of corn flakes and just about everything else in the fridge.. needless to say it was a mess! partners in crime and boy did we ever get into trouble.. often.

    We’re both ADD. He’s not so much and seems to have coped allot better then I did.

    We were highly intelligent kids that got bored allot.. My poor Mother always tried her best but there was no way. Even our Dad was away allot being a Fisherman he would go out for a week or so, comeback for a little then out again.

    What I’d recommend. Routine. Same time to bed. If they don’t go to sleep right away then as long as it’s dark and quiet let them be. Maybe take the toys out of the room and have it a place for sleep only.

    And as for the getting up before you. Get those ringers that go off when the door is opened. It goes off, they can’t sneak out, no more fun. Put the buzzer part outside your door so they hear it as well as you do so they know they’re caught :)

    Hope this helps some.


    Post count: 14413

    Gracious, he sounds pretty normal to me (ADD mom, mom of an ADDer, and primary teacher). It is really hard to believe but they really do develop those academic skills at very different rates. But, with that said…

    What starts to set off buzzers in my head as a teacher (when I’m dealing with my students) is how I see them attending (or not) to lessons, how they respond to work tasks in the class (are they really engaged and working on the task or are they more interested in figuring out how much of their entire body they can fit inside their t-shirt). Even the t-shirt contortionists may very well be ‘attending’ and learning although the majority have missed the lesson.

    How much work have you done with him on the alphabet before he went to school? Do you play alphabet games with him now at home or while driving the road? (Grab any old magazine, turn to any random page and challenge him to find the largest ‘E/e’ on the page, the smallest ‘e’, or find an upper case ‘g’ in the colour red, you probably get the idea.) Challenge him to see how many easy sight words he can find on a page (just google ‘dolch sight words’ for the lists). Use a timer and turn it into a beat the clock game. The 6 year olds LOVE to try and beat their own record while being timed.

    So, after working and playing these games with him over a couple of weeks, what do YOU notice? Is he learning those letters? Their phonetic sounds? Or do you find he just can’t remember them even though he was purposefully engaged in the activities you did with him? Some kids will need weeks of repetition to learn the same stuff that the next kid gets in one sitting. It’s not fair, is it? On the other hand, your son probably has some of his classmates beat on other fronts. (industrious, creative middle of the night adventurer!)

    We (colleagues) have been noticing more and more kids coming into ‘the system’ who don’t have a clue about the alphabet (write their name? (know their first name to hear it- yes. know their last name? huh? recognize their own name if it is on paper?? ah, that would be a ‘no’). Then there’s a whole bunch coming that have been difficult to get motivated to even even play ‘learning’ games or do activites that would help them learn that blasted alphabet. Do you know how many times a day I hear ‘I don’t want to”? Your son’s teacher may be running through a mental list of struggling students in her class as you speak to her and she’s ranking them according to problematic learning issues.

    Falling asleep? Well, a full third of my Grade 1s in the last five years have never gone to bed before 10 pm. They tell me so and I believe them now. For one thing, they tell me the line-up of TV shows that they’re watching and the parents themselves have confirmed the times! Apparently, when kids put up a fuss about bedtime it’s become easier to let them stay up until they fall asleep while watching the toob. Then they just get carried to bed with no tantrums to deal with. (then there are those that are just left to sleep on the couch!) So what are these kids like in class? Some sit staring off into space (well, the wall sometimes). Some fall asleep sitting upright. That one is more common in the hot weather. Others? Dynamite is needed to keep them awake and focussed.

    Add to that what teachers would call their ‘real’ behaviour issues (after doing contained behaviour classes I’ve seen what they had to deal with while trying to teach the rest of the class). So when you express your concerns to the teacher about your son, don’t assume she’s not interested or that you’re getting a line about they all learn at different rates, because they do. She’s running her class list through her mind (if she’s really engaged in being a good teacher) and looking at where your son fits. (Are his issues extraordinary as in out of what is considered ‘ordinary or normal’ for his age or are they just right?)

    She’s also forced to priortize the students that she brings up at the school’s ISRC (in-school review commitee) meetings. They only want the worst of the worst because only those will be/can be tested for learning disabilities. The others are left with us to deal with. Wouldn’t it be great if every kid could have a full psych. ed evaluation if we think there is a hint of a problem? Yes,… *sighs*…..but I know from my years of teaching (a lot in SpecEd) that there just isn’t $$$$ available for that. We’re sometimes begging, pleading, and jumping up and down to get ‘them’ to listen to us when we think some investigation needs to be done.

    I’m not saying give up! Just be aware, watchful, and the squeaky wheel, if need be. Keep working with him at home making the language work into games. In truth, that is what it is. It’s a code that just needs to be broken. It’s boring to sit and drill the alphabet although you’ll run into a few who love to do just that. You’ll get a real sense of how easy/difficult it is for him to learn and put new information into memory. Gather up samples of all the work you do with him (keep dates on everything) and if you are still concerned set up a meeting with the teacher and show it to her. Ask her if she is finding/seeing the same issues with him in the classroom.

    Long-winded and I’m sorry about that. Hang in there. Many of the others have mentioned being night owls. Yes, it’s common for the ‘hyper’ ones of us to be that way. My mother’s complaints about me never sleeping as a baby and ever after still ring in my ears even now as I flip/flop/wiggle in bed (at 2 AM getting up at 5:30). Yes, I had to learn the rule that if I couldn’t sleep it didn’t mean I could wander the house or wake up others to come and play with me.) No, drugs don’t seem to help and some seem to make it even worse!

    I wasn’t sure about the self-esteem issues. That usually ensues when the kids feel friendless or ‘stoopid’. Does your son sense he is not as competent as a learner as his peers? If that is what is causing the self-esteem issues then he may well have learning issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes, all that is needed is extra tutoring to get them caught up with their peers to turn that thinking around. Investigate this some more with him but be careful in how you word your questions. It’s very easy to lead them to answer your questions in the way they think you want them to answer them. Kids really do like to please us adults so if they think we want them to feel sad/bad/etc they will tell us exactly that. They are precious, aren’t they?

    Work with him at home. I can honestly tell you that a good education or learning doesn’t ever happen without constant assistance at home from the parents. All the top students have parents who have vested hours working with their kids at home. We get a few minutes of individual time with each child and that’s while we’re still trying to keep an eye on or corral the behaviour issues developing in our ‘busy’ ones. Reviewing work at home helps our brain consolidate the information. Some of the ‘special’ brains need more review to consolidate.

    Isn’t parenthood fun?


    Rick Green – Founder of TotallyADD
    Post count: 473

    There’s a video here on the website where Dr. J talks about sleeping habits. One of the keys is no TV or electronic games an hour before bedtime. The screens really do seem to keep the brain going. I know if I start a game of Tetris on my cell phone I can be up an hour later than my body wants. Yes, warm milk and some banana on peanut butter also help, cause they have tryptaphin the natural sleep chemical. Someone mentioned Melatonin. I found that works for me.

    Also, lots of exercise is hugely helpful for the symptoms of ADHD and for preparing kids for sleep.

    For the more general and universal concern about wanting your children to avoid what you went through, I’ve learned that no matter what we do, they will go through stuff. If we save them from what we went through, they’ll simply go through other stuff.

    So three suggestions:

    1. Put as many structures in place that allow them to express their uniqueness. Keep them busy. Expose them to music lessons, etc.

    2. Handle your own stuff. Take care of you. Kids want us to be happy. If we are happy it takes pressure of them. They need to see it’s possible. When I really started to take care of my health, my welfare, and took time for me, my kids were much happier. And in the process they took better care of themselves.

    3. Let go of expectations. Let go of deadlines and schedules. For example, many of the Doctor’s we have spoken to have talked about ADDers needing 5 or even 6 years to finish university. If that’s the case, so be it. While understanding what ADHD is and is not can be life saving, don’t get caught up in labeling everything or focus too much on ‘What’s happening? What’s wrong? Why are they doing that?” I’ve found I could go off into endless hours of navel gazing and worrying, with little or no benefit to my kids, and yet more hours lost in thought that could have been better spent just enjoying time with my kids.

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