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6 1/2 yr old ADHD Genius
By Marni B. on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 8:23 AM EDT
I have a son who was diagnosed with ADHD after having excessive behavioral issues in school. My son is a genius, he is about to finish his 1st grade year in school and is far ahead of his peers academically. We have had him IQ tested and his overall IQ is 138 (99 perecentile) with a score of 154 (which is a perfect score above the 99.9 perecentile) in 2 seperate areas! The psychiatrist who did his testing told us he has never seen anyone other than my son get a perfect score in 2 areas ever. I've been encouraged to get my son into a gifted program at a private school. I'm very concerned about pulling him out of his public school (which is rated in the top 25 in the nation but doesn't have a gifted program until 3rd grade) because I worry about him socially and also the private schools in my area are nearly 20K per year! We live in Long Island (Nassau County) I moved here because of the school system and when I am paying 30K a year in tax dollars to fund this "amazing school system" why the heck should I have to send my kid to private school? At the end of the day, I will do whatever I need to do and what's best for my child but, I just want to make sure I have exhausted all of my other options first. And besides, doesn't his public school NEED to provide an educational environment that suits his academic needs? They can't just hand him a few enrichment dittos and assume they are educating my son! Can't I hire an attorney and fight them to either give my son an entirely gifted curriculum (or allow him into their privately funded pullout gifted program which technically doesn't start till 3rd grade NOW) or if they can't provide what he needs, pay for him to go to a private school? I don't know the law-does anyone?

My son has been having severe behavioral issues in school. He gets physical, has major meltdowns and has been suspended multiple times. We have a 504 plan for him and he has an aide in the classroom with a behavioral modification plan in place which has helped somewhat. I'm at a loss as to what to do with him academically as well as behaviorally. I don't know if meds would help my son as he can focus (his academics are phenomenal) his behavioral problems seem to stem from not being stimulated enough!

Is anyone else dealing with a similar situation? I need advice? Thanks!
By Gail F. on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 8:41 AM EDT
My boys have not been tested, but would fall into this category too. My oldest is in third grade - is reading a 7th grade level and gets 100% on all the state-tests. His first grade year was a disaster, which is when we had him diagnosed and spent a lot of time doing the med trial and error dance. We didn't find his "perfect" med for about a year. Second grade he did fabulous and about half-way through the year, his teacher started him doing in small groups the things that the advanced kids in third grade spend their time doing. His self-esteem perked up and so did his enjoyment in school. Third grade, he is doing AWESOME, he is pulled out twice a day for both math and reading, and he pretests out of social studies and sciences and does independent study followed by group presentations (which he really likes and I appreciate bc he has some social skills problems and this gives him public speaking experience).
My first grader, he is not hyper, but he is fidgety and has depressive tendencies. We have him figured out with the help of a psychiatrist taking a combo of a stimulant and an antidepressant. He is doing way better now than before, with still some social skills problems FIRST GRADE IS HARD!!!. He does well academically (even better now with the focus help he gets during the day) and he is going out and seeking friendships again. It is the same thing at our school, they don't get "funded" special-ed until third grade until they take certain tests that quality them, but teachers do help kids who need more, it doesn't just benefit the kid who needs it, but the entire class....these kids ARE disruptive and can't sit still, they need "more." And the squeaky wheel does get the grease. If your school is TELLING you to change schools, that's just weird. Request a teacher for second grade that can work with bright kids. By third grade, these ADHD kids are catching up socially to their peers (a little) and really start to do well. My third grader is finding a small group of loyal friendships with a similar interest niche, and enjoys "getting out there," finally. Do what your gut tells you. Spend the money on after school things that stimulate his brain, instead of on private school in first or second grade when much of the time spent at this age is really, just babysitting.
By Marni B. on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 9:08 AM EDT
Can I ask what med was "the perfect med" for your 3rd grader? Why was it so good? Is he still taking it? Seems you were in a similar situation with him as I am with my son. Glad to hear there is a light at the end of the tunnel! :)
By Gail F. on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 9:58 AM EDT
I put that in quotations b/c there is no "perfect' drug. He crashes daily but the benefits outweigh this....he realizes that he feels better and "does" better when he is medicated. He takes the same dose of aderall as my husband - we had him diagnosed last year. My first grader failed aderall (or it failed him, I should say) and he takes a very small dose of focalin, which is in the same category as Ritilin but is engineered to remove many of the side-effects that ritin "sufferers" deal with.

I do not agree with people who think that these meds are "mind-altering." I suggest to those parents, watch Dr. Barkley talks on youtube and read his book. You will be educated on ADHD and have the courage to do what's right for your kid and the stigma attached to medicating will be erased. Research shows that kids who are given "glasses" are able to read better and can finally "see". They are able to finally finish a complete thought before the next thought interrupts the previous. They are able to predict what an outcome might be inf they behave a certain way. They are able to build relationships b/c they're not in a constant state of mental disorganization.

soap box.
By Christine J. on Mon May 7, 2012 at 2:15 PM EDT
Without having read all the responses, sorry for that, I think when meds are necessary and would be helpful, then they should be on them. I know that kids who arent being challenged academically do act out like your son does, and maybe until you can find a solution about school, he could benefit from a mood stabiliing med for the short term. I wish you luck with him and working out something with the school district.
By Melanie D. on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 10:14 PM EDT
I'd like to add that meds do more than increase focus. They can also help with impulse control, which can curb the acting out. I've found with my twice gifted son that sensory "fidget" toys help, and his teachers have been more than willing to agree to their use as it means he stays calmer and they can teach the class. He uses "chew tubes" when he needs oral stimulation (tried to get the school to agree to hard candy which works at home but they wouldn't budge on that one), and small toys that he can work with his hands without disturbing anyone else. Even he has noted (at 8 yrs old) that these help him concentrate. For my daugher, it's chewing gum or nothing. She learned early on how to hide it from the teachers, with my blessing, since it worked!

But the original post from Marni was about public vs private school and that, I think, is a situational decision. Depends on the quality of schools available to you, and what you can afford. The benefit of public school is the availability of 504 plans and IEPs, with all the legal backing that comes with them. At private schools, it's all just a handshake, basically. I've done both and have had mixed results at both. From the sound of things, in your position, I'd stay with the public school and supplement with tutoring or whatever until 3rd grade. As another poster said, go with your gut. You know what's right for your child and your family.

One last thought: your son is young and how his "stuff" manifests will change as he gets older. Remember that both ADHD and giftedness carry high comorbidity rates. ADHD may not be his only diagnosis.

By Marni B. on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 12:17 AM EDT
Thank you all for your input/feedback! Melanie, we also do give my son those stress ball things to squeeze if he gets frustrated and they do help. I never thought about something to chew on-great idea..I'm going to try that! What is a "chew tube" and where can I get them??

We have recently started some meds and are having mixed results. We first tried a very low dose of Aderol (.25mg) with the intention to increase to .5mg a week later and .75 a week after that. On day one my son was extremely quiet, almost depressed, and on day 2 and 3 he was simply out of control-more impulsive than usual so we stopped it because we felt it was having an adverse affect on him. Doc now switched him to Ritalin (same dosing instructions as before). So far, day one he was amazing (but severe diarreah) and up all night, day 2 bad day (but I honestly blame this on lack of sleep) and today day 3 also amazing-his teacher said he was perfect today! But, I still have concerns about him getting adequate sleep. At least the diarreah subsided after day one! We are due to increase to the .50mg on Sat and I worry that the higher dose will only give him more insomnia (yet if he's doing so well on .25 I'm sure .50 can only help more so it's a double edged sword)!

Has anyone else had experience with Ritalin in a young child (6-7yrs old)?
By Melanie D. on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 1:52 PM EDT
Hi Marni. Glad you found my comments helpful. :-)

I got my chew tubes at Amazon, although there are other sources. If you go to Amazon, do a search on "chew tube" and plenty come up. We have a couple different shapes and textures to suit whatever he needs at a given time; also so there's always a clean one around. There are also things to chew that aren't as obvious as the chew tubes, like necklaces (really good if your kid likes to chew on his/her shirt collar) and bracelets. I've never used them but they're available at (they're called Teething Bling). I like Office Playground for hand toys; we have found Tangles to be his favorite. Plus they don't make any noise (good for church).

Zach has been on meds since he was 3. He was actually diagnosed at 2 1/2, although I could have told you when he was in utero that he was a busy, busy boy. Every child is different, and different unto themselves as they grow. With that caveat, our experience with Zach has been that Adderall and Ritalin make him aggressive, sensitive/weepy and have terrible med crash; short or long acting, same issues. Vyvanse has worked well and we've stuck with it for about 2 years now; he's currently taking 60 mg. Each med change or dose increase requires about a week's adjustment period. Stomach and sleep issues.

Doubling a dose that's working well could help, or it could be too much. If he acts like a zombie, it's too much! (And he won't sleep.) Keep trying until you find the right combination and hope it lasts a little while. The difference in your son's ability to participate in his life makes it worth it!

HTH! --Melanie
By Maria R. on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 4:05 PM EDT
My son is 7, diagnosed with ADHD and Gifted. His GAI is measured as 99.8% School has been a challenge, but we are lucky to have found a great elementary school this year. GREAT Special Ed and General Ed teachers. We don't medicate, but this is what we do so far to support him:

- Every morning and afternoon a dose of Kids CALM Multivitamin supplement (We've seen a calmer boy so far, it last a few hours)
- He goes to OT and ST twice a week
- Lots at physical activity: swimming lessons, gymnastics, soccer. Plus we have trampoline at home
- Lots of visual help, see some resources I like for charts, sensory gyms, etc.:
- Calming Cream when he has trouble going to sleep:
- A sensory diet, BUT ALSO a HEALTHY DIET: Organic (when budget permits) NO artificial coloring, NO additives, UNprocessed foods. We haven't gone Gluten-free but we are thinking giving it a try.

An last but not least, a BOOK full of resources that has helped me tremendously, A-Parents-Guide-to Gifted-Children:

We have definitely seen an improvement with all this. Still, we have the occasional tantrums, but overall we've seen a huge improvement. It's amazing to see how much overlapping there is between Gifted and ADHD. And the asynchronous development was a new term for me but completely opened my eyes and I began to see my son's reaction in a different light.

Hope any of this helps.
By Maria R. on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 4:28 PM EDT
Oh, and I forgot... I am not against medication, I am waiting and trying other methods before jumping to that conclusion. Here is a recent article that I found very interesting: