Need help with my 7 yr old son

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Yes, I'd like to hear how things are going too!

A few words about us: my older DS is 6 and in kindergarten. He's advanced in terms of reading, writing, math, etc, but he has struggled since he started kindergarten with the routines and behavior expectations.

He has trouble managing his folders, backpack, etc. at school. We recently met with the teacher and talked about some ways to support him. We're going to focus on one routine when he has trouble, the end of the day, and he'll have his tasks to do--put papers in folder, put folder and lunch box in backpack, get coat, line up. If he accomplishes everything, he gets a sticker on a chart. His teacher said she can't give us a daily note or email, but she will on a weekly basis.

DS also has very low frustration threshold and he is a perfectionist, meaning he gets upset if he can't do something perfectly (e.g. writing, cutting, drawing, etc) he overreacts and gets mad or sad. We're trying to figure out how to help him deal with frustration without having a meltdown. He has been evaluated for developmental and behavioral disorders at school and in a private clinic, and the only area of concern is speech and language. He does have speech/language therapy twice a week. I think this is just his temperament, and he (and we!) will have to learn how to react in appropriate ways.
Originally Posted by sarah42
This is my kid all over and over, especially the frustration & meltdowns. He has been diagnosed with ADHD but is not on an ADHD med, although we did consider it. He is on a very low dose of abilify, 2mg. He is very skinny so doesn't need anything stronger & I don't think I'd increase it, not at this point. It has taken the edge off his extreme emotional reactions & his behavior in school this year is vastly improved. He still seems to struggle with low self esteem & will often make comments that he's a "bad kid" & i don't know where that comes from, as I've never given him a reason to think that. He has an appt with an independent counselor this Friday, I'm hoping she can give us some insight into those thought processes. He much prefers to disappear into movies or video games, despite the fact that he's a strong reader & artist. When he does draw or paint, he tends to draw kids that are sad or mad.

Academically he is smart, when we can get him to focus on it & not be overly critical of himself. He does not handle pressure or timed exams well at all. Lately he has absolutely bounced off the walls at home. Some of his attributes (being sensitive & easily upset) we are trying to accept as just his personality, but I am glad he is seeing someone this week, just so we have another professional opinion.
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A couple books that have been helpful for us:
Raising Your Spirited Child Rev Ed: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic: Mary Sheedy Kurcinka: 9780060739669: Books

I think I've recommended this one on here before. It's geared more towards children with speech delays, but has valuable information about school evaluations and their pitfalls. The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late: Thomas Sowell: 9780465081417: Books

I don't have a great deal of trust in school developmental/behavioral evaluations, but we agreed to it (reluctantly) so it could be shown that the only real concern with DS is speech/language. I also wanted to be a "team player" and go along with the school to build a good relationship with them.

The independent evaluation we got was the best money we've spent. I went into it worried of what they'd say--speech apraxia, ADHD, autism. They ruled out those and came to the diagnosis of mixed expressive/receptive language delay. They also had a great deal of helpful advice on how to help Connor make progress. One suggestion was to help him learn reading and math at home so he'll do well academically and that'll be one less thing that a school can nitpick about.

WJ, those expectations sound ridiculous and not age-appropriate for kindergarten. The independent clinic that we visited recommended that a Montessori or Waldorf school would be good for our son. They also cautioned that not all so-called Montessori schools really follow the Montessori method, which allows for children to be very self-directed. Best of luck finding a more appropriate school!
sarah, our kids sound similar. He's in speech therapy now, although only 1x a week (can't afford 2x) Next up is MRI, ENT appt.

Are you on pinterest? I've found it to be really helpful in finding creative ways to engage with him and try to get him up to speed with the school's obnoxious expectations.

My latest experiment is trying to reinforce sight words & high numbers (in our case over 20) by writing them on ping-pong balls and making a game out of it.

You can find me at: Lisa Goddard (webj0ckey) on Pinterest

I appreciate you sharing your experiences. It's helpful.
I'm not on Pinterest but have been thinking of joining for a while, so maybe I'll go ahead and sign up now. I just looked at some of your posts and those ideas would be a big hit in our house too.

You live in Texas, if I recall. What you are describing in that kindergarten class does not align with Texas's state standards in language arts. See
If the school wants him to repeat kindergarten and you want to fight it, I would bring that up.

This blogger Life in the Pumpkin Shell has a 12-year-old son who has dealt with similar issues with speech, school, etc.

LCL, best of luck with your son's visit to the counselor. I hope that goes well and gives you some better insight into how he's doing.
I never saw the original post...but just wanted to say I saw a post from a mother recently that had a son that she pretty much described identical to yours. She decided instead of meds to try diet. I know some doctors...fight this saying it doesn't make a difference but her testimony was living proof. She removed dairy, gluten and I forget what else and noticed even after 4 days a change in her son. She goes on to say...after some time (can't remember how long) she had her son back. He is old enough ...that he can describe to her how he felt...tha the doesn't want to go back to feeling frusterated...etc. It was a very lovely testimony. I know diet or vitamin defficency can play a role in behavior.

My son last fall was having attention problems, then behavior issues, etc. Nothing to the degree you described. We found out in November he was anemic...after bumping up our iron (red meats, more green veggies) and taking liquid iron in came back up. His behavior has gotten better and his attention is better in school. This was one little vitamin defficiency...I can't imagine what it would be if he was allergic or had issues with other things.

I wish all of you lots of love, patience, and knowledge to know how to handle each of your unique situations.
I would love to do diet modifications but he is so damn picky and stubborn enough so that he would literally sneak food or not eat. He has asthma and we've been successful in weaning him off of dairy. Gluten will be a big challenge though. Won't eat rice but I'm still trying. Won't eat potato unless it is in cut in fry formation. food needs to be plain looking (like no flecks of seasoning or herbs) or he'll start flicking each one individually or not eat it at all. Luckily he will eat smoked salmon and on occasion chicken so I can get some protein in him. We put all sorts of probiotics, vitamins, minerals in his giant sippy for school, so I think he's ok for the most part. I never thought of iron though. I'll look into that.

The ENT visit went well, and I think it may be a big source of some of the problems. He clearly inherited snotty ears from me.
@webjockey...FYI. Chas' iron was barely low. I think 12.5 is considered...range for normal and he was 10.8. It made a big difference....

If he is low...the liquid iron stuff tastes nasty...but grape juice hid the taste...
I'm so glad to see this thread revived. I have a bunch of thoughts so read on if you're interested. Sorry this is so freakin' long. It's all based on the reading I've done over the last two years. Please don't think I'm preaching at you.

As I mentioned before, it's fantastic that you're all intervening now rather than in your kids' teen years or not at all. There's tons of evidence to show that people with undiagnosed ADHD are more likely to smoke, use stimulant drugs, etc -- they're unknowingly self-medicating. They also have many other emotional issues such as depression because they've been called lazy, bad kids, trouble makers, stupid... My son wasn't diagnosed until he was 14 and is now experiencing a lot of self-esteem issues -- more than the typical 16 year old -- because we were so critical for so many years, and still are sometimes.

Parenting -- I have to admit that I was one of the people who thought many kids who were showing signs of ADHD were the result of bad parenting, poor diet or lack of exercise. Then my son was diagnosed...Anyone for "judge not lest ye be judged?" Based on the tons of research I've done since, ADHD is not caused by bad parenting. Yes, there are kids who misbehave because of bad parenting, but I don't think that's the case for any of you. Of course there's always more you could do, but it's a physiological, neurochemical cause. So, please forgive yourself if you feel that you're to blame. That being said, there are things parents can do to help the kids manage their ADHD such as helping them develop routines and providing strong boundaries.

Hunter vs. Farmer -- Thom Hartmann says that people with ADHD are really just hunters living in a farmer society. For example, hunters are aware of everything that's going on around them while farmers are focused on the task at hand. Sound familiar? So, what many people consider weaknesses, could also be considered strengths. It's commonly believed that Ben Franklin, Tomas Edison and Mozart had ADHD and they obviously contributed a lot to the world. If you can help your kids see their strengths, it'll make a world of difference to their self-esteem.

Diet-- There's substantial evidence that Omega-3's help a lot. Apparently there are the three components of omega-3: EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA are the ones that have the strongest impact on ADHD (and depression too) and can be found in oily fish such as salmon, albacore tuna (canned albacore tuna in water is great), and swordfish. The ALA type is a precursor to the EPA/DHA kind and it's harder for the body to use, but definitely helps. That's where flax seeds and oil, and walnuts come in to play. So, if you get an omega 3 supplement, it seems like you want one that's high in EPA. I just learned about all of this a couple weeks ago and have been trying to get more omegas into the kid, so I don't have any personal proof yet. Actually, I guess we all need it for heart health and kids also need it for their growing brains.

Zinc has also been shown to help decrease impulsivity. Other minerals that may be linked are potassium and magnesium.

Exercise - I just read a really interesting book called Spark by John Ratey that shows how exercise helps manage ADHD (and anxiety, depression, PMS). It's got a ton of scientific stuff in it, but the bottom line for ADHD is that kids with ADHD who are involved in athletics that are aerobic, highly structured and require a lot of focus show remarkable improvements in behavior and school. He gives the examples such as martial arts, gymnastics, and figure skating.

Medication -- obviously a hot topic. We decided to medicate our son and it's been very effective. We've messed around with different ones because the stimulants were suppressing his appetite. We're not trying Strattera, which seems pretty good, but there are still focus issues. I know there are potential physical ramifications, but w/o the meds, there are guaranteed low grades, behavioral problems and continued low self-esteem, to say nothing about the stress that it causes us as parents to see our highly intelligent son doing poorly in school. Maybe if we'd caught it earlier, we'd be in a different place but it's working for us right now.

Ok, enough of my novel. If you can believe it, I edited this down a lot.
@webjockey...FYI. Chas' iron was barely low. I think 12.5 is considered...range for normal and he was 10.8. It made a big difference....

If he is low...the liquid iron stuff tastes nasty...but grape juice hid the taste...
Originally Posted by inheritedcurls
Keep in mind that normal and optimal are two different things and most drs are only concerned with normal.
I would definitely do an elimination diet and get him on an absorbable form of magnesium ( there are liquids and powders plus adding epsom salts or using mag oil will help), omega 3 fatty acids, b vitamins, zinc, probiotics and a quality multi vitamin.
Gluten, dairy or other food intolerances can cause everything from behavior problems to autoimmune disease. Keep in mind that even after quitting these foods, it can take a year to heal the gut with the right supplements. Not a quick process.
Also look at sleep patterns. Record his sleeping at night. He is most likely not getting quality sleep even if he's sleeping for many hours.
Can you find an integrative medicine dr or functional medicine dr? There is an underlying cause just need to find it.
Just curious if anyone's doctor has recommended for your kid to see a neurologist or get an MRI.
My brother and SIL just when through all this with my niece. She was referred to a neurologist for behavior issues and he ordered an MRI and sleep deprived EEG after the first appointment. They didn't expect to find anything, but they wanted to rule out a few unlikely issues. As expected, they found nothing and could go forward with other types of treatment.

My daughter's issue is neurological but the effects are physical. Her doctor also ordered an MRI after the first appointment. Again, they didn't expect to find anything but they wanted to rule out some things.

If you have questions about the MRI or sedation, I can possibly help with those.
My brother and SIL just when through all this with my niece. She was referred to a neurologist for behavior issues and he ordered an MRI and sleep deprived EEG after the first appointment. They didn't expect to find anything, but they wanted to rule out a few unlikely issues. As expected, they found nothing and could go forward with other types of treatment.

My daughter's issue is neurological but the effects are physical. Her doctor also ordered an MRI after the first appointment. Again, they didn't expect to find anything but they wanted to rule out some things.

If you have questions about the MRI or sedation, I can possibly help with those.
Originally Posted by CGNYC
Thank you. I'd like to hear more about the sedation experience. I hate the idea of putting him under for something my gut tells me isn't there.

We've more or less decided on not going forward with any ADD/ADHD evaluation until he is older.
It's full sedation, like for surgery. Some kids do fine with it, some wake up giggling, but a lot wake up screaming and that's what mine did. It didn't last long (felt like FOREVER) and she didn't remember it ten minutes after she finally stopped crying, but it was crazy traumatic for me. The doctors didn't warn me, the anesthesiologist didn't warn me, the nurses didn't say a thing. One of my friends had recently been through the same thing with her daughter and because no one told her that might happen, she was totally unprepared and had no idea what was going on. I am so thankful she thought to prepare me so when I hear someone's kid might be sedated, I try to say something ahead of time.

They let us stay with her almost until the very last minute, but we had to wait outside while she had the MRI. After a few minutes, we heard this horrible scream so I went to the door and told my husband if they didn't come out, I was going in. Someone came out and told us she was ok, sometimes this happens, and then they rolled her out. She hadn't yet opened her eyes but she was fighting and screaming. Her mouth was bloody from screaming and she had peed on herself. She later threw up on herself (from the force of the screaming) so take a change of clothes. We held her and talked to her for about twenty minutes before she settled down and opened her eyes. She ate some crackers and was like, what are we waiting for? Let's go to the mall!

We really had to have the MRI because her symptoms could have indicated a brain tumor. I was very relieved to get the results and still feel like it was necessary, but it was the suck.

Did they give you any indication that they were looking for something specific, or are they just kind of fishing because they're out of ideas?
Wow. I didn't expect that.

I have the impression that this is part of their standard operating procedure - first rule out medical stuff, then proceed to psychological diagnosis.
It seems that is very much the way these things go. Test for the things you can and rule those things out first.
Sandhya has had an MRI. She was sedated using propyphol and had no issues with it. Woke up calm after the procedure. She's had 4 procedures under propyphol so far (ear tubes, 2 dental procedures and the MRI) and the hardest thing for her is the no food from midnight onwards lol.

Now the MRI.... it didn't show anything. I've never known anyone to have something revealed bt MRI.

Sandhya has a chromosomal abnormality and cognitive delays which puts her at higher risk for seizures so the neurologist suggested we do it. I was resistant to the idea because she's never had seizures and it didn't sound like there was anything they could find that would be treatable. I wasn't really interested in a scan being done for academic purposes. That said, when our turn came up I found I couldn't bring myself to decline it. I'm still kinda kicking myself about that.

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