Does My Child Have ADHD?

Parent Q&A

  • Hi Fellow BPNers, 

    I am not sure if I am looking for advice or reassurance but am feeling a bit overwhelmed by a recent situation. 

    We have a wonderful kindergarten boy who is on the younger end (late April) due to a large amount of children participating in TK. He started kinder just over 6 weeks ago and it has gone as smooth as we could have expected. The class is great, we really like his teacher, only 17 in his class, etc. 

    However, we have begun to notice that our son is a bit more "distracted" than his classmates. We volunteer in class and notice that he seems to be on the later end of finishing work, he is always the one talking and worrying about what others are doing and just not being able to sit still for any length of time. When he entered kinder I realized that he would be on the younger end in our district and that our own focus on play and discovery in preschool may leave him slightly behind, but now we are concerned less about academic gains and more about his lack of focus. Don't get me wrong, 5 year old boys never sit still but I have noticed he struggles to stay keyed in on a task for more than 4 or 5 minutes. We brought this up to his teacher and she said she did see some of our concerns and would be happy to provide some tools to work on expanding his focus. 

    My husband struggled with ADHD his entire life and was not diagnosed until late elementary school. He feels that his lack of diagnosis early on made him feel like he was simply a bad student and that he would always struggle in school. I certainly do not ever want our son to feel like he is struggling, behind or "different" but also don't want to push for something like an ADD diagnosis that may simply be him being an immature boy. 

    So my question BPN is what should we do? Is it okay to just say, we will wait for a few months and see how things progress? Or should I ask the school to have him tested ASAP with the understanding that if they find something early intervention is always best?

    We really want our son to love learning and don't want him to stress out but also are not interested in giving him unnecessary labels that could follow him in the future...

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.


    Confused mama

    Why not get him assessed?  As the mom of a (wonderful, btw) kid who was diagnosed with ADHD very late, I can only say if there's one thing I could turn back the clock and do over, it would be getting our kid in for testing MUCH earlier than we did. What would be the harm in knowing, getting services  started earlier rather than later, and setting him off on the best path you can?  BTW, April is not a "late" birthday, it's smack in the middle (towards the "older" end if anything) of school district cut-offs. I can't understand why you'd question a his in general, but then with your husbands own experience...

    Your child could also be acting up a bit because you are in the room.  I definitely noticed this when I volunteered in my kid's pre-school back in the day.  Kids get excited when their parents are present.

    My son had similar issues in kindergarten. In fact, it's as if you were describing him when he was that age. We didn't worry about it. We didn't worry because we knew he could focus and concentrate on one thing if he really loved it. For instance, he was able to take apart old electronics with a screw driver for as long as an hour without distraction. Also, he was able to hear whatever anyone said even if he was busy doing something else. So think about whether or not your son is able to focus on something at all, outside school. If he has the ability, then I don't think you have to worry. School is very distracting and only now, second grade, is my son able to fully focus in class. Of course this is purely my own experience and yours could be very different, I'm only explaining what mine was like.
    I would like to add that while it's reasonable to worry about adhd because of your husband, try not to go directly to that assumption. I think we all too easily attribute our kid's behaviors to our own without much thought and that may lead to us having expectations for them to be a certain way which isn't fair to them. I hope this helps!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


8 year old may have inattentive ADHD

Oct 2011

Hi fellow BPNers. I have an 8 year old 3rd grade daughter. She has a mid-September birthday and started kindergarten when she was four so she has always been the youngest in her class (we attend a school district where many parents hold their children until they are 6 to start kindergarten). Her preschool teachers said she was ready for kindergarten and she was from a social (making friends) and academic perspective. However, from the beginning we had some issues with behavioral situations (wanting hugs from the teacher, not wanting to sit in circle when it was time, etc.). First and second grade, however, she did fine--she is an avid reader and performs at a satisfactory or above satisfactory level on most benchmarks. However in second grade and now in third grade, her teachers commented that my daughter is frequently distracted and often misses important instructions for completing an assignment. In addition, she talks a lot when she is supposed to be working on an assignment which prevents her (and others) from finishing her assignments.

Another potential piece of the puzzle is that there is a strong ADHD predisposition in my family...My grandma, Mom, sister, nephew and niece have ADHD, and another sister has ADH.

I am looking for advice from other parents of other easily distracted children on how to help my daughter focus better. And how to get her to stop with the chit chat during school time. And if your child was diagnosed with ADH, were these signs that your child exhibited prior to being diagnosed? Thank you!! anon

ADHD is frequently diagnosed in 2nd or 3rd grade because of the increased academic demands. You need to get her evaluated, especially given your family history. Talk to your pediatrician. - mom of an ADD kid

I took a long-acting ritalin daily from age 12 to age 19. Other siblings took ritalin from kindergarten until college. There was never a need to increase the dose - ever. I stopped the drug at 19 and was able to integrate my learned behavior (focus, concentration) into my life well enough that I didn't have any problems as an adult. However, probably none of us actually had ADHD. We were diagnosed in the sixties and not a lot was known. Possibly there were just too many kids in our family and not enough parental time. I have mixed feelings because I accomplished a lot due to being on ritalin, but I think any normal person would have better concentration skills on ritalin! Your fears about long term consequences, and the need to increase the dose are unfounded, at least in our family experience. Your son's self esteem will probably be boosted by doing well and being able to behave and concentrate better. anon

My son started Ritalin when he was 8 too. He is 10 now. I posted about ouexperience to the other question in this newsletter about the inattentive 8-year-old.Your son is taking a really low dose, and it sounds like it's working for him, so that is great! The kids do not ''adapt'' to the ADD medication; it's not like heroin where they need more and more and more. It's more like your 2 cups of coffee in the morning. You don't add additional cups over the years until you're drinking 30 cups a day because the two cups works for you! Once you find the right does, they stay on that dose. We had a hard time figuring out dosages. We started out like you with a low dose and then went from there. For us, the problem wasn't so much the number of mg's as it was the ''delivery method.'' It really took almost a year of trying different brands of Ritalin before we found one that worked. There is the time-release kind, which lasts for the whole school day, and then there is the regular kind that your son is probably taking, which is out of their system by about lunch time. With the regular, he had no focus in the afternoons,which was ok in 2nd grade, but it started to be a problem in 3rd grade. Homework was impossible too. The time-release OTOH would last for the entire school day and he'd have no problem with homework, but then it seemed to hang around in his system for hours after dinnertime, and he wasn't getting to bed until 10:30 or 11. We tried using the regular kind and having the school give him a 2nd dose at lunchtime, but again we found it was interfering with his sleep. So we finally went to a child psychiatrist at Kaiser who figured out that our son has a very slow metabolism and this was the problem with the time-release meds. It was hanging around in his stomach and continuing to dribble out over a much longer time period. He prescribed a different time-release that delivered more in the morning and less in the afternoon. It worked great. In our case, we changed him to a new school that had more running around time and less stress, and in the middle of 4th grade he stopped taking meds and it was fine. Now in 5th grade we are all taking about trying them out again because academic demands are picking up, but we'll see. His older brother's focus got better by 7th grade, so there is hope! a mom

I have experience with both my son and having been inattentive and hyperactive myself as a kid myself. When I was a kid I got worse when I was around large numbers of children or around other hyped up kids. It took me quite a while to unwind afterwards. But I did unwind if I was around someone calm (like my uncle or my dad). Having quiet time to play by myself helped too. I also realize that another aspect was being upset or angry about something someone was doing - which made me aggressive. Mostly it just took me longer to make the transition active to quiet. Also I needed more running around and playing time than some kids. The more I played outdoors, the easier it was to appreciate quiet time after I burned off the excess energy. It took me a few years, but I eventually got it right. I also strongly suspect that food was involved, because what I ate made a difference. I completely outgrew my issues and went on to become a successful manager and college instructor. When my son came along, I saw that he was like me in some ways, so we decided to home educate (supplemented with lots of supervised social activities, sports, choir, and so on). No ADHD issues have occurred. I think a calm and patient authority being present is a big factor like in the ''Santa parenting book'' (which is currently free online)at a parenting site Happy parenting! grown up ADHD kid

I think that my son might have ADD

Aug 2010

My husband and I have been in marriage counseling for a year now. We're doing really well, but last week our therapist suggested that my husband might have ADD. We did a lot of research and think that he does have ADD. Now, he's waiting for an appointment with the doctor and possibly psychiatrist. Well, I've also said for a long time that our oldest son is a mini version of his father. My husband agrees and we are also taking a close look the possibility that out son could also have ADD (neither seems to fall into ADHD catagory). My questions are to anyone who has been through this process. To medicate or not to medicate? How do you discipline a child with ADD? Any proven methods to help them remember things? How do I cope with this condition? I want to support them both, but it's so hard to not get frustrated when I see them constantly forget or put things off. Are there any good support groups in the Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore area? Any advice on good reading material for both coping (them) and handling it better (me) is appreciated. Thanks! Trying To Find Help

My 10-year-old has ADD, inattentive type. He has been helped a great deal by taking Concerta and he can now actually interact with the teacher and students in the classroom, participate in discussions at the family dinner table, and play on a sports team. He could not do any of these things before, because of all the distractions going on inside his head all the time. You should have your son evaluated by either a developmental pediatrician or a neuropsych to see if he does in fact have ADD. If so, you can discuss the options with your doctor. There is a lot of info about ADD on the internet - in particular try the CHADD website.

Hi, I'm a coach who works with non-linear thinkers like people with ADD and many artists. A great resource is It stands for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

I can only answer part of your question and stay within the maximum character limit... sorry... I have a son with ADD or ADHD depending on who is doing the talking. I'm sure this will buck most of the advice given here, but medicating him has been the best thing we've ever done for him. It is not a decision we made lightly. In fact when he was first diagnosed in 2nd grade and we refused medication outright. We had a hard time accepting the diagnosis; he seemed just like all the other little boys we knew. However, by the time we got to 4th grade it was obvious that he had more difficulty concentrating and sitting still than his peers. Between the ADD and his learning disabilities school was a struggle for him and constantly being in trouble was wrecking his self-esteem. Once it became apparent that he was having trouble in social settings as well as academic ones we decided to give the medicine a try. What a difference. His reading got better, his writing got better, he was able to concentrate and remember things. His self-esteem improved as he saw his academic struggles diminish. Don't get me wrong... he still has learning disabilities and memory problems... but things are much better than they were. Overall I'd say it was truly a wonderful thing, and I wish I'd done it sooner. Give it a try and then worry about techniques, you never know what results you are going to get. converted

See my response to a question above about ADHD. Ed Hallowell and his wife have a new book out about being married to a person with ADHD. anon

Active 2nd Grader or ADHD?

Aug 2010

My child will be entering second grade this fall and I'm beginning to wonder if she's just active, or if she has ADHD. She's always been on the very active end of the spectrum - jumping up and down when she sees friends or spinning when she hears music she likes, dancing, moving constantly, running. She's never been a kid who can sit and do a puzzle, or color quietly. She's constantly exploring drawers (childproofing was a must), opening bags, dancing, filling containers with dirt and beans and pouring them into smaller containers, stuff like that. Her temperament is kind, and she makes friends easily. We've worked hard not to restrain her natural curiosity, because it's messy (but natural) and there's no malice in it. But she's clumsy, fidgety, and simply can't sit still for long. In restaurants, she's literally rolling on the seat, her arms are like tentacles, she's kicking, and despite our attempts to demand she sit still, she can't. Her last year's teacher did not see any indication of ADHD but did indicate that she ''spaces out'' sometimes. My partner's relative said we should give her time outs for not sitting still in restaurants -- should we? Or can she help it? Is all this movement a result of bad parenting? Where's the line between temperament and disorder? Help! She's Digging in the Backyard

My soon-to-be-fourth grade son has a similar temperament. He mostly seems unaware of what his body, and his fingers, are doing -- and they are generally doing quite a lot; he's especially bad with picking stuff up and handling it after specifically being asked not to. For a year or more around 1st grade he seemed to be walking into people on the sidewalk on purpose -- I must have said ''Be careful, don't bump into people...'' a thousand times. He's also clumsy, though that has improved considerably over the past year. He's quite tall, and I often describe him as ''a half-grown golden retriever puppy, not knowing quite what to do with all his arms and legs.'' He's not quite as bad in restaurants (but full disclosure -- we give him iPhone games to help him wait!). He can't yet entirely control his sheer physical energy, so we don't punish him for it. And he does not have ADHD. His second grade teacher described him thus: ''He hears every word I say. He may be hanging upside down off his chair when I say it, but he hears me.'' And I think that's the difference. Kids fidget (some more than others). The question is whether or not they can attend when asked to.

I'm certainly no developmental psychologist, so if you are concerned, you should have your child evaluated. But do know that there are other kids out there with very active temperaments. It's normal, and not necessarily a problem. They may have trouble because the school wants them to sit still, but it doesn't necessarily indicate a need for punishment, therapy or medication.

One thing I've definitely found (just FYI) that has helped with body awareness is that he has taken regular martial arts training for a couple of years now. He's much more able to control fidgeting, and not bump into stuff, than before he started. the puppy's mom

Your daughter sounds extremely active, but I wouldn't jump to a conclusion about ADHD unless her teacher begins to express concerns and she isn't learning what she should be in school. Activity level is a temperament trait that is not necessarily a problem, except that our society expects children to sit still. I wouldn't create problems for yourself by expecting her to sit still unless it is really necessary for the situation (a haircut, for example). As she grows older she will have an easier time sitting still but will probably always need more physical activity than other people. You might try helping her to get more intense exercise (gymnastics, sports, etc.) in order to get some of her energy out and make your life a little easier. I am offering a support group for parents of spirited children, so contact me if you are interested in that. Meri

Hi. You will probably get lots of letters with similar advice. I would definitely take your daughter to an occupational therapist with experience in sensory disorders. Your daughter sounds very similar to mine (who is younger), and also to me as a child. Our daughter is also extremely active and ''clumsy''. She was diagnosed with a mild sensory processing disorder in the areas of vestibular and proprioceptive processing. How this plays out with her is that she craves extra input in these areas and is challenged by activities such as sitting still in a chair for a long time. Of course I don't know your child but from the things your wrote I think it would be really worth your while to get an evaluation. We ended up getting the evaluation and then sharing all the suggestions with our daughter's school, which really helped both my daughter and the teachers. I know the restaurant thing is annoying, but it probably really is hard for her. I feel lucky we were able to kind of figure out this problem early because I work in special education. Feel free to contact me. jamie

I don't really know much about adhd, but I know my experiences. You're describing me when I was a kid. It took me until about 3rd/4th grade to finally be able to reel in my energy and sit still for any real length of time. In fact, it took a great 3rd grade teacher to figure out to give me books to read during class because otherwise I was disruptive due to my energy (even though my grades were perfect). This taught me how to always have books with me so I could ''sit still'' in certain situations. I always did great in school, but it was boring and easy. I'm in my 30s and I'm still hyper by most people's definition, however I can control myself when the situation requires it (hours of boring meetings). My hyperness only appears that way to others when it's expressed in a physical way because I can just as easily sit and do 3 hours (or many more) straight of work (software engineer) or read for just as long or longer. I need to be doing something, either physical or mental or I go nuts. I think for small kids it's harder to have something that can mentally stimulate them for long periods (or realize they want/need it), so it looks like hyperness instead of physical action (which they can provide for themselves). I think it's good to point out to her that other people are sitting still in a restaurant so she can too, but I would encourage you not to make it a battle because this might be her nature and you don't really want her to learn how to turn her energy off/tune out. bad parenting? no way. Bad parenting would be you constantly trying to get her to sit still. There is a very fine line between temperament and disorder - it's all perspective. My parents think I should be ''reigning'' in our child too, but I don't agree most of the time. I'm giving her until late elementary and then I'll start explaining that society will take her more seriously if she's not bouncing when she's talking to somebody. Until then, who cares? --hyper and happy

The truth, in my opinion, is that the line between temperament and disorder is very very very gray...

Whether or not she has ADHD, her activity level is not a product of bad parenting, it is just how she is and it will likely be a valuable strength later in life after this awkward stage is over. Its very easy for others to judge when they have not truly experienced it, but its not right for them to do so. I think it is fine to give children with ADHD (or non-ADHD kids) timeouts, in fact I strongly suggest it as it gives them a break from all the stimulus. The various books on ADHD may be helpful on this subject and just about every bookstore has a ton of them. I found Dr. Amen to be helpful - ( What is harmful is to call a child with ADHD ''lazy'', ''spazy'', or try to force them to focus when they are already tired or are not interested in the subject. If you do determine she has ADHD, then I would learn about all the accomplished famous people who have had ADHD (and there is many) and ADHD as well as other ''learning differences'' are just a different way of thinking, not a ''disorder''.

If your child seems to be suffering, such as doing poorly in school or feeling bad about themselves, then maybe getting tested for a learning disability by a qualified professional is a good idea. I am sure your school can provide recommendations. Such testing is not cheap and insurance rarely covers it (although I think Kaiser might), but such academic testing will give you a much more thorough and professional opinion on how your child learns best, and if she has an LD, how best to approach it. I am personally very weary of medications for ADHD, so I suggest being cautious if ADHD is the diagnosis, but you can read about the pro and cons of medication if and when a diagnosis of ADHD is confirmed.

Good luck, I am sure your a great mom. Anon

Worried that grandchildren may have ADD

March 2010

Recently we started suspecting that my grand daughter (and maybe my grand son too) has ADD. The problem is: their father died recently from mental illness and they know he had ADD and depression (among other things). The subject of perhaps them having ADD is really scary for them. Any suggestions about how to approach this? They are both already in therapy for grief counseling. Feel free to email me directly.

I am an adult with ADD. I was diagnosed as an adult when applying to law school. It was a scary thing to learn since I had also heard so many negative things about having ADD, as most of us have. I think when exploring the possibility of having ADD, it is important to keep in mind that ADD does not mean mental illness or one is unintelligent, its just a different way of the brain operating. In some circumstances, thinking in a different way can be a big advantage. Many successful people are reported to have ADHD or learning disabilities including Charles Schwab, Erin Brockovich, Gavin Newsom, Nelson Rockefeller, James Carville, Anderson Cooper, Michael Phelps, Tony Bennett, etc. (see There are challenges associated with having a learning disability such as ADHD, but with a supportive family such challenges can certainly be overcome and one can lead a very normal, if not extraordinary life. anon

ADD or just 7-year-old phase?

Jan 2008

My 7-year old son has always been ahead on the learning curve, was an early reader, has great fine motor skills, and good focus. Recently, however, he has been having trouble comprehending instructions at school and at home, and can't seem to focus on any school related tasks (he does fine when playing). He is struggling in school and with homework, and seems to be forgetting even the simple things he has known for years. His teacher is concerned that he has ADD. However, he can focus intensely for long periods when doing legos, drawing, or doing other non-academic activities. I get frustrated helping him, because it seems like no matter what I say to help him he doesn\xc2\x92t grasp it (and being frustrated with him clearly doesn't help him). Should I be concerned or is this just a 7 year old phase? confused and concerned

I am a first grade teacher and see that many boys have ADD-like symptoms in this age group which disappear later. This observation comes from many years of experience. In my first years of teaching I would overreact to things because I had not seen enough children over long periods of time to know any better. I would refer kids to testing and nothing would come of it but that they were in a phase, just as you suspected. How many years has your son's teacher been teaching? Has she administered any testing for him? Has he been referred to any specialists? If she is making off-the-cuff remarks to you during conferences or in passing w/o back up data, this is a BIG no no. You never should say anything like this to parents if you have not gone through the necessary steps schools have in place for correctly diagnosing learning disorders like ADD first, then the parents should be involved in every step of the process for testing , creating individual education plans (iep) etc. If you are concerned, you can go get him tested somewhere on your own. Don't be too concerned....It is probably a phase first grade teacher

I hate to ask this, but have you ruled out boredom at school. If he's far advanced, I imagine he can think circles around most of the kids and probably is his teacher too. School is often not a good fit for the genius and genius's often fare as badly as learning disabled in school. They just get too bored. My husband's mother told him to watch his teacher and pretend that he was listening. He said that helped. I don't know if there are alternative programs for your son, or different school possiblities? Good luck

ADD or is school just really boring? It's numbing to be told what to do and when to do it for 6 hours a day, constantly supervised, constantly corrected. Perhaps it's deadening his spark. You did say that his attention is just fine when he's interested in the task at hand. I'd stick with that observation and ask the school to change, not him. The only other question I'd ask is, ''Is he depressed about something?'' Best of luck, Elisa

Is your son getting enough sleep? Maybe his sleep needs have changed and he needs more. Our very bright son went through a similar phase, we were puzzled but realized suddenly one day his sleep had been getting disrupted on a regular basis. We made his sleep a priority - in second grade he would go to bed at 7:30 p.m. and sleep til 7 a.m. - and things turned around literally in a couple of days. My boy needs his sleep

6-year-old shows signs of ADD - how to help him?

Sept 2007

I have a wonderful little boy who just turned 6. Since he was in preschool teachers have been quick to mention they think he has ADD. I've been reluctant to jump to this conclusion because of his age. Boys tend to mature slower and be impulsive. I spent some time volunteering in his Kindgergarten class and quickly noticed that my son was not as ''engaged'' during reading time when the teacher was talking or singing, had a hard time staying focused on his work, and was doing very poorly at socializing. I had some talks with his pediatrician over the symptoms and even though they do not generally diagnose them until they are 8 he is showing signs of ADHD. Here is where I am stuck. He is 6. He is a boy. He is above grade level in math and reading. So, there is not a learning disability, but he is really struggling with his actions (he tends to have poor impulse control), his transitions in the class are very difficult for him, he keeps telling me that ''he was in class and his mind made him think of (insert 50 random things here)'' and that he struggles with concentrating. I was amazed that he was able to communicate that with me. Although, it means that it was on his mind too. I'm careful not to mention things in front of him. I don't like labels, and I don't want him to label himself either. I want to know what I can do to help him, but not overhelp him. I'm not sure if he needs a 504 plan. I'm afraid of him getting labeled and having that carry over and the teachers discriminating against him because of it. Or, him being singled out in some way and not feeling like part of the class. I'm really confused because, having not been through this before I have no idea what to expect, what works, or what else to try. This is where I plead for help. Any advice will be consumed and devoured. I want to be my child's advocate. I love him dearly and want him to succeed in life. It just takes one step at a time. eastbaymom

Hi there, I almost feel like this post is a flash forward for me! My boy sounds very similar to yours in terms of poor impulse control. Tack on trouble with transitions and its him to a tee. Anyway, mine is still in preschool, with another year to go before K, but we already see that his social/behavioral maturity level is a little delayed - not ADD or ADHD, just not what teachers want in school. Academically he's above average.

Anyway, so we took him to see a developmental pediatrician whose advice to us was to hold him back from Kindergarten or have him do it twice, so that he could catch up developmentally to where he is intellectually before he hits 1st grade. We don't want to hold him back or have him repeat K twice, so we're exploring a middle ground - montessori. Montessori schools don't have grade levels per se, and the curriculum is child centered. This means that the teacher will assess my child and provide him with curriula that challenges and interests him. It also means that if he has to do an extra year of school before Kindergarten, it won't be weird for him. He won't be held back while the rest of his friends go off to the next grade.

I wish you well and good job for trying to figure out alternatives to having your child diagnosed with a learning disability - especially since it's possible that he just needs a little more time to catch up socially. anon

So many of us have been right where you are and can relate. I will get right to some quick advice. (I have a 12 year old ADHD boy and a 10 year old year with ADD).

By the age of six, you can certainly have him tested. This is really the first and most important step. A professional can sort through the difference between ADHD and just a ''boy.'' In our case, it was very clear cut and almost off the charts. We retested at age 9 with a different person and same results. In our case, medication was and is essential for daily functioning. There is so much to read and so many options. Medication isn't the only option, but it is often a part of an overall solution. My son really didn't know a label until quite recently.

However, we have worked with his teachers very successfully since 1st grade and they have known of the diagnosis. Overall, better for them to know and work with it than not (although I struggle with the same concern of labeling).

If it turns out that he does have it, there is lots of help out there for both of you. They say one out of nine kids may have this. Maybe environmental? In our case, both the dad and grandmother clearly have it, so genetics is at play.

My main advice, get into the subject. Find out what he really has and then you can create your game plan. Good luck! Anonymous

My daughter has almost the exact same symptoms, is a high scorer in math and reading, etc. She is now 9. We've been dealing with all of this since age 3. I am reluctant to put her on medication but her distratability and inability to sit still is affecting her school work. This is what I did. I spoke to our naturopath and we decided to do neurotransmitter testing on my daughter through NeuroScience. It was just a urine test. It took 3 weeks to process and we found out that she has some fairly serious imbalances. She's on 3 different supplements and the difference is amazing. It's not fixed yet, but we are closer. She can now sit down and pay attention for much longer periods of time. Her self esteem is coming up a lot as well. The other thing I did was I found her an accelerated program at school. The whole school is an accelerated program (I changed her schools). They move much faster than a traditional school and she is doing SO well. She's never bored in school (do you hear that?) and she likes going to school. Those two changes have made all the difference in the world! Paula

I would start with an assessment. Once you have some more specific information about what is (or isn't) going on with your child, you can figure out what the best course is.

I've been through this with both of my kids -- it's expensive, but well worth it. My son was also 6 when issues arose, we had him evaluated, it was ADHD plus other things. My daughter was also evaluated a couple of years later -- no syndromes, but we got great input from the psychologist on how to parent this particular child.

I would recommend Dr. Carina Grandison (sp?) at Children's Hospital (she evaluated our daughter). anon

Your son and your concerns sound a lot like mine. My son had behaviorial and social difficulty at the same age. I struggled to figure out what to do. And, I was concerned about having my son pulled out of class and labeled.

After numerous discussions with our pediatrician, we took our son to a developmental pediatrician for evaluation. Honestly, this wasn't terribly helpful and cost a lot. We learned our son has some of the qualities of ADHD and Aspergers kids, but did not receive a firm diagnosis - he's borderline. The pediatrician confirmed our concerns and observations about our son, but didn't add much to our understanding of his behavior or approaches to handling it. Although, she did make us aware that impulsivity is an element of ADHD and can contribute to social difficulties.

We ended up having our son assessed by our public school speech therapist (for language pragmatics/social skills) and occupational therapist. Some of the assessment was observation or in-class and some out of class. The speech therapist worked to minimize the loss of class time. The kids in his class don't seem to view visits with the speech therapist in a negative light. The results of the assessment and IEP were not surprising, but thorough and provided measurable goals. My child was recommended for the gifted and talented program and other services to address his social difficulties. We weren't pressured to accept any services. I am finding that the assessment and IEP are a good place for us to start conversations with my son's teachers. They lend legitimacy to the idea that my child needs support socially and behaviorally. I spoke with a number of teachers about the possibility of stigmatizing my son by putting him into the school evaluation system. They all felt that he would not be harmed or stigmatized by the process and so far, that has been our experience. Overall, I'm happy with the public school process and found our speech therapist to be a good advocate for our child.

We also are planning to have our son attend a private social skills group this year. They do their own assessment of your child. Although we haven't started the weekly classes, I have been thinking that I wish we would have started with this approach. They would have told us if he needs more, less, or different help. And, we would have started working to build social and behavioral skills immediately instead of doing so much evaluation. Good luck. Anonymous

The results of a large study was just described recently in the New York Times. Kids who ingest artificial colors and preservatives in foods demonstrated hyperactive activity like ADHD afterwards. Try eliminating processed foods like this, especially in his lunch. He sounds like a bright boy. It may help control his moods and behavior. The article is here: Good luck!

I'm responding as both a psychotherapist and an adult with ADD. While it is totally understandable that you don't want him labeled, without help he will have unneeded difficulties. It's important that your son receive the adjustments that will help with his attention difficulties. A good book to start with is ''Delivered from Distraction.'' I also recommend MarRem Remington, a psychotherapist in Oakland who has a background in special ed and specializes in assessments and consultations as needed with schools. Parents are fully involving in the process and she has many helpful suggestions for home and school. Her # is 510-835-4357. Suggestions

Has anyone heard of inattentive ADD disorder?

Jan 2007

I was in my salon the other day and spoke with someone who has a daughter with the same type of problems as my daughter. Some were your typical, but some hit right on the mark. She said her daughter was tested and was found to have inattentive ADD disorder. She was giving meds and went from a majority of D's on her report card to A'S. Any input or Recommended physicians who specialize in this hard to detect type of ADD. Ray

Clearwater Counseling and Assessment Services, in Oakland, offers comprehensive psychological ADD evaluations, which include a school observation, for quite reasonable fees. Attention Deficit Disorder is not a medical condition, and it is best assessed by a psychologist rather than a medical doctor, although of course an MD needs to prescribe any recommended medications. Often, symptoms of ADD can be treated behaviorally, with medication added only if there isn't satisfactory progress using behavioral interventions alone. Visit Clearwater's website: or call Dr. Sharon Witkin at 596-8137 for more information. Sally

ADD is a medical disorder that has a higher genetic basis than any of the other psychiatric disorders (including schizophrenia) and is primarily treated with medications. I am a psychiatrist who treats UC Berkeley students with attention deficit disorder. ADD can be with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity but these are not necessary for the diagnosis. The inability to focus must begin before age 7 and interfere with two areas of functioning such as school, home life and social skills. For children the treatment of choice is medications and this is provided by pediatricians and child psychiatrists. Educating the family and teachers how to work with the child and tutoring as needed to keep the child up to grade level are also important. For adolescents and adults treatment choices include medications and cognitive behavior therapy. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder are sometimes co-morbid with ADD so the treatment of people with ADD is usually complex. anon

I'm a Berkeley psychotherapist working mainly with teens who have learning disorders of one kind or another. Many of my clients have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD comes in two varieties. There is ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type, and there is ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type. Most specialists now consider the Inattentive Type of ADHD to be a different disorder altogether, not just a sub-type. ADHDI (as it's often called) is hard to diagnose, because people with ADHDI don't show outward signs of distractibility; that is, they don't jump up and down, wiggle, tap pencils, interrupt people, talk ceaselessly, and so forth. They may appear to be quite calm, composed, and focused; but inside, their minds may be racing aimlessly from one thought to another. They are highly distractible: so much so, that they often don't seem to hear what is said to them or to be aware of what's happening around them. They find it hard to get started on projects or complete them. They do things quite slowly; overall they are characterized by what some experts call ''sluggish cognitive tempo.'' In moments of stress they may slow down rather than speed up; occasionally people with ADHDI may even fall asleep during important final exams. Obviously this kind of ADHD can produce severe academic problems, though it isn't as likely to produce disciplinary problems as the other type. I hope you'll find this very basic information helpful. Please let me know if you have questions. Caroline

I expected to see tons of answers to this question, so I held off, but so far the only replies have come from therapists; nothing from parents! Yes, I have indeed heard of inattentive ADHD -- we've been living with it for a long time... ADHD comes in 3 flavors: primarily hyperactive-impulsive, primarily inattentive, and combined. Before you settle down with any particular therapist or doctor with any particular approach, you may just want to get some basic information. There are so many good websites, but here are a few that I have found helpful: CHADD.ORG - extensive information about all aspects of ADHD; some very good basic information sheets. MEDLINEPLUS.GOV - National Institutes of Health (I think...); very authoritative and reputabile; just search on ADHD SCHWABLEARNING.ORG - lots of very informative articles on ADHD, as well as on other learning difficulties. I hope this helps. anonymous