We have a child who has ADD. It is not something that is quickly diagnosed. It is a process. For us, it was years in the making.
Here are snippets of conversations we have had at IEP meetings through the years.
*Pre-K: S has a hard time staying on task and paying attention.
Team Response: Everything is new to him, and he is busy exploring.
*K: S has a hard time staying on task and paying attention.
Team Response: This is his first year with some academics, and he is building his language. Let's wait until we see what all of his initial testing results show.
Psychiatrist who performed PsychoEducational testing: S had a very difficult time staying on task. He wouldn't do what I asked during testing. He was easily distracted during the test and during my observations in the classroom.
Psychiatrist's report: S repeatedly asked for the volume on the tape recorder to be turned down. He kept saying it was too loud and hurt his years.
OT's response to Psychiatrist: Of course, he wasn't going to pay attention. He was uncomfortable. He told you that. As far as not paying attention in class, he's trying hard not to fall off his chair which is an inappropriate seat for him. Let's get him a new seat that will position him correctly.
*First Grade: S has a hard time staying on task and paying attention.
Team Response: This was his first full year of academics. It's harder for kids to adjust to that. He also had new technology which could be causing the distractions.
*Second Grade: S has a hard time staying on task and paying attention.
Team Response: He is new to the school since you just moved. He's adjusting to all of the changes
Parents' Thoughts: It doesn't matter what you think because we have had it with this school system. He's going to be homeschooled until we move.
*Third Grade: S has a hard time staying on task and paying attention.
Mom's Response (dad was gone): Every year I hear the same things at IEP meetings. He doesn't pay attention and can't stay on task. Should I take him to the doctor and talk to him about doing an ADD evaluation?
Team's Response: No, we aren't saying that (and they hadn't). It's a new school (we had moved again). Academics are more challenging.
*Fourth Grade Report Card - First Quarter: S has a hard time staying on task and paying attention. He is easily distracted.
*At this point, our home life after school was miserable. S was tired and couldn't focus on his homework. He would get upset. I would get upset. J would get upset. Dad was still in the Army and was traveling a lot. I finally told my husband that we couldn't live like that anymore.
It was time to go to the doctor and talk about attention issues. S was very concerned about this. We told him that he could have a medical condition that made it difficult for him to pay attention, and we were going to find out if that was the case.
1. We met with the Pediatrician and addressed our concerns. He gave us paperwork to fill out, and we asked S's teachers to fill it out. It was very interesting. His classroom teacher was the only one who saw the lack of attention. Of course, we saw it at home also. We asked the Pediatrician if we could see a Neurologist due to S's CP just to cover all tracks.
2. The appointment with the Pediatric Neurologist was wonderful! He talked us through the diagnosis process. Due to S's CP, the testing and accommodations steps had already been taken. As the doctor described a typical day in the life of a child who has ADD, we had to stop and ask him if he lived in our house. This was S!
3. We agreed to try S on medication and then re-evaluate to see how it was working. It changed everything for him.
*His grades came up. He went from a C to an A in Math. He was 1 of 10 4th graders to get an A in Math for that quarter at school.
*He was completing his school work.
*We could play games at our house! He had been unable to take a turn in UNO without numerous prompts.
*S could get dressed without getting distracted during the process.
*That 4th grade report card was the last time he received an N for Needs Improvement on Paying attention/Staying on Task.
As we have told S, ADD is a medical condition. It is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior or just choosing not to do something. We have worked hard to help him function with ADD. We have learned to respect that he will do things differently than we will. His brain works very differently than my list making brain. That's okay. He is very creative and thinks outside of the box.
I will be on the couch with chocolate as S proceeds to tell me everything that is running through his mind....