So many people are quick to say their strong-willed, overly-active child has ADHD. But for some, that can be far from the truth. There are specific symptoms that cannot be tested until children become older.
Once my daughter started school, it was not just the wiggles anymore that I noticed. For us, the signs were clear from how she handled playing in a group and, academically, seeing certain subjects being such a struggle. Of course, the fidgeting was also apparent. I knew something was wrong when I would pick up my daughter from school and she would begin to cry without me even saying a word to her.
The self-confidence began to go down. She wasn’t the happy little girl I knew. That ambition to try her best was gone. She asked, “Why can’t I sit still and be good? Why is it harder for me to understand than everyone else.” These questions were hard to answer, especially to such a young child, but as a mother, I knew action needed to be taken. But where to begin?
School and Pediatrician
Your child’s teacher as well as your pediatrician are your first steps. Whom to go to first is up to you. If you are the one putting the meeting together with your child’s school, make sure you have your list of concerns and questions on hand. Let them know your concerns, that you will be discussing with your pediatrician, and that you will keep them informed. Remember to keep communication open with teachers and principal. Let them know that you’re aware of the situation and that working as a team will make the process smoother for both parties.
Some pediatricians will have take-home tests for you — as well as the school — to fill out. Some may even recommend testing facilities. The at-home questionnaire can diagnose ADD but not ADHD nor any other diagnosis your child my have. That may lead you to your next step.
After receiving my child’s ADD diagnosis from her pediatrician, the option of medication was given. For me, however, that was not the route I wanted to take. That is when I started my research on testing facilities. There are few out there; some have medical doctors on-site, and some with certified specialists. Believe it or not, some with certified specialists are more expensive. The downside of choosing a medical doctor is that very few will accept your insurance. But once the testing is complete, you can get a clearer picture of where exactly your child struggles and then find the best route for them.
We chose a physician’s office and, after her three-hour testing, my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. With us choosing a physician, we received the results and were sent on our way. So, what next?
If you choose the route of non-medicating your child, then a plan will need to be put into place. That plan will work best with therapy. When you hear “therapy,” you may think of a doctor in a chair and you laying on a couch, spilling your feelings. That is not the therapy we are going to discuss.
There are many options for each child’s specific needs. Finding a facility that deals with behavioral health will help get you and your family in the right direction. In our situation, the facility that we found has weekly play therapy for my daughter. They also have equipment on-site that a physician uses for brain wave tests to see how short her attention span is and ways to get her back on track. Being able to work with your child in this environment will help them find the best fit for your child and make adjustments as needed.
Family therapy is also encouraged as well. Having a child with attention problems can be stressful not only to the child, but also to family members as well. A therapist can help you work as a team and teach you how to better communicate with your child. Finding the right facility can be daunting, but that is your last step.
Don’t Give Up
The journey to getting testing done, finding the right facility, finding the right plan for your child will be the biggest struggle of all. But don’t give up. Taking this route may not work for some families. But if you don’t try, then you will never know. If this route doesn’t work for your child, don’t give up. You will find what works best for your child; it just takes time. Your child is growing daily, and what worked best one year may not work the next, but don’t give up.
Although we feel like we are the parents so we know best, don’t forget about your child who has to deal with this daily. Keep communication with him or her open, and listen to what he or she has to say. Let your child know that you understand this journey may be a difficult one but that together you will not give up.