Jun 192016

Getting An ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Diagnosis

My youngest son, who is going on nine in August is the sweetest little boy I know. He is thoughtful, caring, considerate, polite, adaptable, shrewd, kind and absolutely hilarious. He is definitely one of a kind and frankly, he has so many endearing qualities that I could never possibly list them all.

In case you missed it, his birthday is in August. In the town we live in the cutoff for the school year is September 1st meaning that if you are born by August 31st, you are eligible to start school at age 5, but if your birthday falls after the cutoff, you have to wait a year. Kids born on say September 2nd (and after, of course) end up turning six while they are in kindergarten while my son was barely five when he started and didn’t turn six until right before he started first grade. He’s been the youngest in his class since he started kindergarten, but my other son – who also has an August birthday- did just fine going to kindergarten so young.

Sadly, it was a completely different story for my little guy.


Before I tell you about what’s going on with school, I want you to know that my son went to preschool for two years prior to starting kindergarten and even though I saw signs that led me to think he might not be ready for kindergarten yet, his preschool teacher insisted he’s do just fine. I should have went with my gut.

He struggled with school (starting in kindergarten) from day one. Mostly it was his lack of focus, but each year that went on he was getting more and more behind in school. In first grade my son was so far behind in reading that he qualified for the Title 1 program, which was individualized help. He got pulled from class, along with two classmates, for reading help several times a week. It took the whole year, but he eventually caught up to the reading level he was supposed to be at.

Even though his father and I are now divorced, we are on the exact same page when it comes to both of our kids. We are both very involved and each year we actively communicated with the little guy’s teachers. In first grade the question of retention came up, but since his reading had improved so much – we sent him on to second grade. The issue of retention came up again at the end of second grade, but we sent him on again and unfortunately, third grade was not a good year for him.

And don’t even get me started on homework. It’s a battle every single day. Sometimes it was the fact that he was so burnt out by the time he got home that he just couldn’t focus enough to get it done. Other times it would be a thousand distractions. Then other times he’d completely forget what he learned in school and would have no idea how to do it. Then I would have to go to watch some YouTube video on how to do it because kids don’t know how to do math the way I learned it.


But back to why third grade was such a bad year for him.

Part of it was my son. He’s the youngest one in his class, so his maturity level is definitely not where it should be, but the focus/attention issues have been really hard for him and there are no signs of it getting any better. The other part was that his teacher went out on medical leave at the end of September and never came back. For months there were substitute teachers in and out of his class and while they are all great, it didn’t do much to help him. My son needs routine & consistency and he was not getting that. At all. In January, his new permanent teacher was hired and since he took over my son has been doing better, but there were still a lot of attention and even behavioral issues.

By now you are probably wondering why we hadn’t had him tested for ADD and the answer is, we did & it’s been a long, hard process. It started when my son was in first grade. We saw that he was struggling with reading and even though he was getting help for that at school, we knew that reading was just part of it. He was really struggling with everything – especially math. Not to mention that the attention issues were getting even more prominent. His dad and I had no idea where to start, so naturally we contacted his pediatrician who sent us two questionnaires to be filled out. One by us parents and one for his teacher to fill out. Based on our answers, the pediatrician said he didn’t fall into any special needs categories. His teacher, his father and myself all scratched our heads at that one, but were told it was probably immaturity and that my son would snap out of it. Ok?

In second grade, his father and I saw the same issues as we did when our son was in first grade – only worse. His teacher put us in touch with the SPED (Special Ed department) at the school and we were told to fill out yet another questionnaire. It was essentially the same as the one we did for the pediatrician, but we went ahead and did it. His father filled out one, I filled out one and our son’s teacher filled out one. Once they were all back, the school scheduled an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting to discuss the results. Let me state before I go any further that the questionnaires they want you to fill out if there is a question of an ADD diagnosis are ABSURD. They are beyond vague and the answers can be very subjective. Apparently I didn’t answer mine the right way and my son was denied services. I truly don’t know how they can gather any sort of accurate information about the child from the questions they ask. Someone really needs to take a hard look at those things and come up with a better way to test these kids.

But I digress.

Fed up, we finally took our son to see a Neuropsychologist in January of this year. We made the appointment last September (of 2015), but there was a long wait to actually get seen by her. Once we did get in to see her, she had to do so many tests that she couldn’t finish them all that day and we ended up having to go back to see her a second time to finish up. By now we’re in February and had to wait for her to go through all the results before his dad & I could get a diagnosis.

It’s now March and his father and I finally get a call to go in and hear the results. I was so nervous that day because I knew in my heart of hearts that there was more to it than immaturity, but part of me was scared that the doctor wasn’t going to find enough to make a diagnosis. Well, she did make the diagnosis of ADD that day and boy was I relieved. This poor sweet boy that’s been struggling for so long was finally going to get some help.


Unfortunately it took the Neuropsychologist three months to get the official report sent out. My ex and I kept calling her and emailing her to get a status on it. We weren’t able to start any of his treatment without it, so we were desperate to get that darn report. Once I had it in hand and saw that it was about 35 pages, double sided, I understood why it took so long. A copy of the report was sent to us (one to me and one to his dad), his pediatrician and the school. Since the report didn’t come through until the end of May, which was essential the end of the school year, it was really too late to salvage the third grade. Between the attention issues and the substitute teachers that my son had for the first half of the school year, his father and I both felt like he was in no way prepared for fourth grade. Fourth grade, as we learned from our older son, is one of those transitional years and it’s hard. I remember my oldest coming home with hours of homework and considering that it had already been taking my little guy hours to complete a worksheet that should have taken 10-15 minutes tops – we felt it would be in his best interest to repeat third grade.

It was a heart breaking decision for me. His father was pretty set on it and while I knew it was in his best interest as far as his education went, I worry about his already low self esteem. I guess we truly won’t know how he feels about it until next September, but his father and I have been telling him that he’ll be a rock star next year because he’ll not only be one of the oldest in the class as opposed to the youngest, but he will already know a lot of the stuff and will be a role model for other kids in his class. So my son will be repeating third grade next year and I am confident that he will have a great year next year.

And don’t worry, we’ve got a treatment plan in place and my little man is going to be getting all the help he needs to be successful.

The moral of the story here is, listen to your gut. If you think there is something going on, it probably is and even if you get shot down, keep fighting for your kids. Get second, third, fourth opinions It’s not easy, but eventually you will find the right person to help you and your child.

And that’s where I am going to leave off for today because if I kept going, I would have a novel here. If you’re wondering what happens next, stop by next week because I am going to tell you all about what the next steps in the process for us were. My ex and I had a busy few weeks of meetings, but things are finally happening and I am so thankful that my little guy is finally getting help.

  91 Responses to “Getting An ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Diagnosis”

  1. I completely understand. My brother has add and dyslexia, and my nephew is about to repeat Kindergarten. The diagnosis process is so hard, but I’m SO PROUD of you for following your gut. That is beyond awesome.

  2. It sounds like a very frustrating process, but I am glad that he is finally going to be getting the help he needs.

  3. I have to admit, an ADD diagnosis is something I feared when my kids were little because my husband and both of his brothers were diagnosed as children. Instead, I got an ODD diagnosis on my daughter, and it’s an uphill battle that feels like it will never end.

  4. Listening to your gut is very important because it’s only us moms who know our kids well. I am glad he will get the treatment he needs.

  5. I learned when my girls were little to trust my gut. No one has your child’s best interests at heart more than you. Your son is very fortunate to have 2 such amazing parents that will get him whatever help he needs. It may be an adjustment to repeat 3rd grade, but I’d bet that as the year goes on, his self esteem will soar and he’ll be doing great!

  6. I can totally see why it would have been a relief to finally hear something and confirm what you’d been feeling. Things are going to be so much easier for him now I hope!

  7. Thank goodness he finally received a diagnosis and you can take the next step in helping your son. Hopefully, things will get better real soon for your little guy.

  8. Good for you for being an advocate for your child. When My middle daughter was diagnosed with a processing disorder and given an IEP, I freaked out. I was worried about how this label would affect her, but thank goodness she did not get teased by the kids and she thrived with the extra help and therapy she received.

  9. This is such a heart wrenching decision πŸ™ My youngest daughter’s birthday is August 11 and she is my only child who has always struggled with reading. My husband and I went through the same thing. Fortunately for us, she had an AMAZING teacher in 4th grade and was able to catch up. Each grade presents her with new challenges though and we are always second guessing our decision to put her in so young. You’re doing a great job, Mom!!!

  10. I’m so sorry to hear that your son will have to repeat 3rd grade. I’m so happy you finally have a diagnosis, and you have a clear direction to take to improve life for him. The gut always knows. You’re totally right on that one.

  11. It sounds like such a long, hard and frustrating process for you all to have to go through πŸ™

  12. What a long and hard process, I am glad that he will finally be getting the help he needs. Thank you for sharing such a personal story!

  13. We are pulling my kids out of their previous school for similar reasons. Well-meaning teachers and support staff keep saying everything’s fine and limiting our access to resources. I know everything’s not fine. So we are moving on to a school where we’ll be able to get more help. Good luck to you in the upcoming year!

  14. I wish I could give you a hug right now.

    I to struggled big time in school. My parents would work with me, and work with me. I’d go to school after spending hours on end studying, and fail a test every single time. They talked about holding me back 2 different years. I swear I give credit to my friend Debbie for being so smart. Whenever it was group time, I picked her. I pushed myself because of her. I didn’t read actual books without pictures until 5th grade. I didn’t want to, they didn’t have pictures in them. My teacher said, “You can picture the pictures in your mind.” That seemed to work. I did alright after that, but always struggled with tests. Including my ACT. I’d get A’s in my classes, but it was just because I worked hard. I begged my councilor to take the ACT untimed to send both results to college. They let me in. I to was young. I remember my mom staying in the car, in the garage crying because I just wouldn’t get things.

    I worried so much about my kids doing the same as me. They are smart, but I remind them that I struggled. I don’t want them to be judgers. They need to be helpers, and understanding.

    I did some research on learning disabilities this summer. Whoopi Goldberg (dyslexia), Steve Jobs (dyslexia), Daniel Radcliffe (dyspraxia), Steven Spielberg (dyslexia), Justin Timberlake (ADHD), Michael Phelps (ADHD), Einstein (slow learner), and more.

    This is a great website: http://www.weedemandreap.com/learning-disorder-genius/

    Hang in there. It has to be frustrating.

    I hope he has more consistency this year. That’s huge for kids.

  15. He may have ADD but I give credit that he tries to catch up. I hope he gets the help he needs.

  16. Getting this diagnosis can be difficult, but with the right plan, it doesn’t have to be too difficult. I have a few friends with kids who suffer from this condition, so I’ll share this post with them.

  17. Me, my daughter, and my son all have ADHD. It can definitely be a struggle if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

  18. He sounds a lot like my oldest son. My son received services at his school up to 5th grade. My son is now 21 and doing great in the Navy. Hang in there.

  19. Kudos to you, mama! And to your ex-husband! I’m glad you listened to your intuition. I’m also glad you have an answer. You and your ex know your son, and I think you’re doing what’s best for him, he’ll appreciate that, if not now, later.
    Wishing you all the best!

  20. I just got diagnosed as an adult and I feel like its a whole new world for me. I wish I would have known about this (and had support for it) when I was younger… but its great to take things as they come and be grateful for when things work out.
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

  21. I’m a school principal, and I think your school failed you. I know how this works, and with his history you’d think they would have had more guidance. But that’s history, so moving forward, be sure and ask your third grade teacher what strategies she plans to use to help your son. Retention is a big deal, and you have already started this the right way, by telling him that this is a good thing. You two are rock star parents! Contact me if you need anything else, strategies, advice, whatever.

  22. We listened to our gut as well with our 11 year old son and found out he has ADHD at the age of 7. We homeschool, so I was able to see everything all day long that he was struggling with. I originally thought it was a learning disorder because reading was going NOWHERE and bled into everything else. We didn’t personally fill out any forms because the pediatrician just asked the questions in the office and wrote down our answers. Luckily, he had won many awards for basically being an ADHD expert so we felt confident, plus we all loved this office.

    Our son wasn’t even close to being ready for school lessons when he was 5 and it took me almost 2 years to get him to actually sit (for a few minutes at a time at least) to do a worksheet. We found so many alternatives to ‘traditional’ lessons that has worked wonders for us. Just another perk to homeschooling (but no, I don’t believe everyone should do it lol).

    We opted out of meds for him because we can work around his struggles and find alternatives. Outside play is a BIG factor in helping his focus, attention, and hyperness. Also, a yoga ball for indoor.

    Our teen has ADD and that is a whole other battle for us. Thankfully she loves to learn but Math is the worst for her.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  23. ADD can be a struggle, even for adults. Your son is lucky to have two parents who have his best interest’s at heart. I’m sure he’ll do great.

  24. Kudos to you for following your gut and getting answers. It is a shame that it had to be such a frustrating process.

  25. My 10yro son has Aspergers & sensory integration disorder, 4th grade was his hardest yet & the teacher didn’t help his progress any at all this year.

    I was finally able to get him some help with the testing and now he gets extra time & breaks for all the testing the schools give now days, along with a few other things.

    Like your son homework was a nightmare & took hours and many many tears. It broke my heart nightly. By 3rd the end of 3rd grade we figured out he was in sensory overload & diving into homework was not the thing to do. So instead of him doing his school work at night we do it the next morning. I know it seems odd but it’s been a lifesaver & there is no longer tears, arguing & he gets it done in 20 minutes. Now we do the reading homework just before bed. It’s his bedtime routine, he enjoys it and we all can sit and read as a family & relax as a family while doing it.
    May not work for all though, but when your at your wits in you’ll try anything to make life better for them.

    I’m so glad your son is going to get what he needs this next year. Just stay on the teachers and double check every resource they have for him. There may be more they can do and you not realize it.

  26. You have done the best for your little men and fingers crossed for the upcoming procedures. Keep the spirit up..

  27. What a frustrating process this must have been for you all. Thankfully, your son has two parents who were always looking out for his best interests and he can finally start getting the help he needs to succeed.

  28. This is so heart-wrenching. You’re a really brave mother! Thanks for sharing your story <3

  29. What a story to share, I am sorry to hear all that you guys went through. I hope this helps your son have a successful school year!

  30. It’s always tough for us parents when we see our kids struggling with school or anything else in life. I’m glad you finally know what he’s going through and you will be able to help him the right way.

  31. Oh man girl you have had it rough. My younger brothers had it rough in school one was ADD and one was ADHD. I am so happy you got a treatment plan in place I Promise you wills ee a huge difference once it gets started.

  32. It’s a hard thing to go through, I did it with my oldest and we’re still doing it. If you ever want to talk about it give me a shout, I’m pretty good at working the system.

  33. We homeschool but I’ve often wondered if one of my sons doesn’t have ADD. So sorry it took you so long to get the answer you needed. Here’s to next year being better for it.

  34. I think its not a easy process but i know that everything will be fine. Its just a matter of sacrifice.

  35. So glad you finally received the diagnosis! I was diagnosed myself with ADD right around the same age as your son. Reading your story was like a glimpse into my own childhood. I feel for your son, I totally and completely understand. I am still living with ADD and it is very difficult.

  36. Wow, what a lot to go through. Sometimes it takes time, but eventually you get the answers. I agree with following your instincts, that usually does steer us right.

  37. Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with us. What a story and what an amazing mom you are!

  38. I so know what you are going through. I went through this with my middle daughter. I started asking questions in Kindergarten and was told it was just normal. But by the middle of the first grade I knew it had to be something else. Luckily I worked in the school system and my friends told me that if I wanted to go get her tested to do it outside of the school system. Which I did. We had a diagnosis before the end of 1st grade. So sorry that you had to go through this. But awesome job on being persistent and getting the answer you needed for your son to succeed.

  39. I am sorry that this has been such a frustrating process. I wish you and your family nothing but the best.

  40. They have come a long way with treatment and diagnosis. It will all work out.

  41. It is so vital for parents to be our children’s best advocates. My children do not have ADD, but my son had some fine motor and spatial awareness issues and getting him OT help was like pulling teeth. Your son is so lucky to have you as his mother to be there to help him!

  42. It can be so hard as a parent to make these decisions but in the end it sounds like you made the best choice for him and in the future I think it will be so beneficial.

  43. Good point. My mom usually got me into all sorts of treatment and medication when I was a kid, all before symptoms were showing up. She said “because she always feels it”. I wish I had instincts like that. I hope for good news for you and nothing else.

  44. Glad that your son finally will get proper help. Mother’s instinct is always right! I’m sorry that your son and both of you had to get through this difficult process. I hope he’ll be more at his ease when he goes back to School on September.

  45. Finally, so glad that he is getting the help that he needs, it can take schools and specialists years before they diagnose children especially when it comes to paperwork. It must have been so frustrating.

  46. I can only imagine how tough it must have been for him, especially with school and the pressure of growing up. I’m glad you finally have a diagnosis and that you know exactly what to do next. I wish you all the best!

  47. What a strong and willing young boy. It was good to get him assessed and know what was wrong, so now you can move forward πŸ™‚

  48. It is such a same that they don’t streamline the process. You guys lost valuable time waiting and doing paperwork over and over again and that sucks. Kudos to you and your ex for staying on it and advocating for your son.

    Glad you were able to get what you needed.

  49. I’m glad that you listened to your gut and he’s now going to get some help. 3 out of 5 of my kiddos have the same diagnosis so I know what your going through. (hugs)

  50. A heart-wrenching story and I’m glad you listened to your gut that something is wrong. ADD is very hard to diagnose but perseverance is the key. I’m happy that your son will be getting the treatment he needs now.

  51. Your son certainly looks like a cute boy.
    Best of luck with your challenges.

  52. Wow! I can understand what you are going through with your son. My boy is autistic and getting him diagnosed seemed to take an act of congress. Like your son, I felt it was in his best interested to do preschool to help socialize and get him in with his peers. He did not do so well and we are still struggling with getting things done pat. I am glad that you were able to get your boy the help he needed! Keep trudging forward (hugs) and I am glad things are on the right path!

  53. Listening to your intuition is so important because it’s only us moms who know our kids well. So glad your story had a happy ending!

  54. My oldest has a birthday right at the end of August and we have the same cut off. She’s always the youngest. We have not experienced any school difficulties with my children, but it’s a fear of my husband. He has ADD and had an absolutely horrible time in school. His mother did not fight for him, so he ended up with severe discipline issues. One year he spent most of his time sitting out in the hallway because he just couldn’t sit still. The worst was when they put him in a box, and his mother just went along with it!! I’m so glad you can get him help so he can be successful.

  55. I was almost always the youngest in my class since I started when I was four and graduated at seventeen. I think it’s so important to remember that each child, even within a family, is an individual and has different needs. So happy to hear that he is getting the help that he needs…that will ease the stress on both of you!

  56. I think it’s great to be able to go to the doctor and get the diagnosis. I would rather know what’s going on then not. I know it’s not the same, but my niece was recently diagnosed with Autism. In fact I have two nieces with Autism. I think knowing what’s going on lessens the stress a lot more too.

  57. Sorry to hear all of the things that you had to go through but you are right stick to your gut. Also, keep fighting for what is best for your child even if and when accommodations are made for him. Sometimes some schools and places appear to think we’ve done something when in theory they have but through working together more can be achieved through your partnership, I speak from being a parent of a son with additional needs too.

  58. I feel you on these kinds of frustrations. My daughter has a speech delay and since she’s now four and doesn’t have an autism diagnosis most of her services have ended now that school is out. It’s like pulling teeth with schools to get them to do the right thing for your child. Drives me insane since let’s be real, no parent wants these things for their kid, parents request such service because it’s the right thing to do… Ughhhh lol….

  59. Oh, I feel sad whenever I read posts about children with a disorder. I can tell how strong you are for your kids, stay that way!

  60. Dealing with special education and the mental health system can take forever! My son has autism, adhd and anxiety, so I completely understand where you are coming from and why you’ve made the decisions that you have.

  61. What a harrowing ordeal to have to go through, for you and your son. I definitely think there is something to be said for a mother’s instinct. I’m glad that you have a plan in place now, and tell him not to worry about 3rd grade next year, there are plenty of parents who send their kids to kinder a year later than normal. Good luck!

  62. So important to listen to your gut. I have a child with ADHD and it has been hard. We ended up homeschooling him in the long run.

  63. In so many ways I could have written this post myself! I am so sorry you are going through the chaos that is navigating the school system and getting them help your son needs!

  64. What a blessing that they took the time to thoroughly diagnose your son. I am a firm believer in following the “gut” feeling. Every time I have ignored it, I have been sorry. Sounds like you are well on your way to improving his learning experience. Yay!

  65. It is very important to follow your gut feeling. When it comes to kids, we need to be more attentive to their needs.

  66. What a process! Sounds like you two have been through a lot. So glad that you are getting him the help he needs. I will follow up next week to see what happens.

  67. My twins have a variety of special needs and we have been trying to get a diagnosis. It’s so hard because one of them has a language processing disorder.

  68. I am so glad that you detect it earlier. I hope that everything will be fine for the both of you!

  69. Wow sounds like a long-winded process. All the best to you guys!

  70. What are your son’s feelings about it? Was he relieved to hear he has a definite diagnosis or surprised? Does he want to repeat the 3rd grade? I think it’s important to let kids take part in the decision process. There will be challenges no matter which path you choose, but when kids know they made a decision (and the decision was not made for them) they are more resilient.

  71. I think it’s extremely important that both of you are so proactive about getting your son the support that he needs to succeed academically. I’m sure he will perform much better in school because of it.

  72. Good news that you got the diagnosis!! Congrats on it, now you’re able to move forward with confidence. Here’s to a great year next year!

  73. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this. My son will be one of the oldest in his class because we waited for Kindergarten and it was the best decision. He would not have done well at all.

  74. Getting second or even third opinion is truly vital. THere are times that it can even save lives.

  75. So very true! It’s important to listen to our instincts as parents! Glad you’re able to get help now!

  76. I’m so happy you decided to work together with your husband to help your son. Sometimes those gut feelings really are right; I know my own mother’s always was!

  77. My son has an August birthday too so we have to make that decision about whether or not to start Kindergarten early or late too. I am glad that you have answers though!

  78. My son also struggles and I agree, those questionairez are for the birds. He is in a SE class that has less than 10 kids in it and at times still has problems focusing. Eagar to see your plan with your son. Personally for us, meds are not an option. We even went to therapy but that was a dead end.

  79. I struggled with ADD myself and still do on occasion. I think it affected me more as an adult than as a kid. I always thought it was just a weird quirk until I found out so many other creative people have it. Being proactive about it early will definitely help your son find his way.

  80. All my best wishes for your little boy! While I understand his struggles (my sister has the same problem), I also know that people diagnosed with ADD tend to be the most inspiring, creative people! Just be there for him and everything will be great πŸ™‚

  81. It is a long and frustrating process! Hope it has a happy ending

  82. Sometimes as the parents we need to follow what our gut tells us about our kids. All the best to you and your little boy

  83. Your son is so cute! I think repeating 3rd grade will be best for him in the long run – maybe hard at first for him, but in the long run he’ll thank you! It’s so great that you and your ex get along well enough to help your son out – I’m so glad you finally got the answers you needed! Best of luck!

  84. It sounds like a long process but I’m also glad that your boy is getting the help he needs.

  85. sounds like a long process, would love to know about it. I’m a mother as well, its nice to know how other parents are fighting for their own kids. this is a nice read for me today. Thanks for sharing it with your readers

  86. Thanks for sharing an insight into what its really like. Sounds like a very frustrating process xxx

  87. I worked in the field of private education and it was always difficult helping parents get through the initial diagnosis, which similar to your case takes forever and when it involves your kid it really feels like forever. Retention is a tough decision but sometimes the best one…congrats on going with your gut:)

  88. I don’t think there is anything wrong with holding your child back to get them caught up. Its much better than pushing them to fail because they’re unprepared.

  89. We do what we need to do for our child. I think that it’s still us who knows what is best for our kid.