ADHD Parents Together
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10-year-old with lots of impulse control issues

I'm worried about the upcoming school year and hoping to find some ideas for how to help my 5th grader control himself in the classroom (and at other times...)

Last year, his teacher reported that he had stopped using the seat cushion that helped him stay more calm and focused, and he started having tons of issues with verbally disrupting the class. Sometimes it was talking out if turn and shouting answers to questions, but she was even more concerned that he was making funny noises at inappropriate times. It was distracting to the students trying to work near him, and very unsettling when he would burst into odd sounds as each student passed him coming through doorways as he was holding the door open. By the end of the year, no one wanted to sit at his table.

He sometimes says he's "weird" and likes it, but we tell him that doesn't make it okay to be silly during class.

He loves to play board games, but cannot stop making noises, singing loudly, humming, babbling, etc. while he waits his turn. When he's asked to stop whatever annoying behavior he's doing, he does it one more time. Every. Time. It's going to get him in trouble at school, but I have never been able to help him stop that impulse.

On top of all this, his interest in school has lessened. He's very smart and loves to learn, but hates the repetitive worksheets.

Any ideas to help him focus on his work and stay out of trouble in the classroom?

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Is your child currently using any types of treatment (medication, therapy, etc)?

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No meds yet... I've been putting it off because it hasn't been a huge problem (beyond getting frustrating for his teacher). He is in play therapy, and she sees how he can get amped up when he's around other kids, but I'm not sure it's helping much. She doesn't recommend meds for him, but doesn't have many ideas for what would help him either.

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I am curious who is seeing him for "play therapy" and is this individual or group. Is this a pediatric psychiatrist?

How were his grades, is he also having issues socializing with peers? Right now he most likely has 1 to 2 teachers, imagine when he has 6 teschers he has to deal with. in middle school.

It also doesn't sound like his seat is a good idea just ask for a plain seat with plastic.so he is not distracted.

If you bring into the school documents that say from your doctor he has ADHD you can ask the school to help you with interventions. They can assess him to see how they can help, if he is that distracted maybe the material he is learning to easy or to hard? We are not educational specialists, but there are people in the schools who write up 504 plans or IEP ( Individual Educational Plans). These issues should be addressed asap so they do not continue to impact his learning because while he is distracted, he is not learning.

Here is the thing with theapry/medication it takes a long time to get it started and it sounds like you are already at the point you need it, honestly school is going to get harder more stressful and you are very close to middle school.

I strongly encourage you to get him help now.

I am only saying this because we have a child that had 1 teacher, little intervention in 5th grade (he started medication, but not like in 6th) then he moved to middle school and WOW, if I could go back and do it all over again I would have started interventions much young. Including gotten him a 504 plan, which is much easier to get in Elementary school than middle school.

Hope hearing our story helps. I encourage you to get help for him now.

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I totally agree with you. My son would be exactly like this if he wasn’t on medicine. No parent wants their child on medicine but when it’s apparent it’s interfering in school and with peers, it’s time to find a psychiatrist that treats ADHD for children. It took me 3 yrs to find the medicine so I agree medicine is needed especially given the age. Dealing with finding the right meds during the teenage years is going to be even harder. My son is a completely different child on meds and in a good one. Please seek out professional help before it’s too late.

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It does help, thank you. The cushion is one of those air-filled things with nubs all over, so he can shift his weight a little and get the same sensory input he would from squirming around or getting up. It works, but he decided he didn't like it.

The play therapy is individual/with his brother and she is a LCSW who sees lots of kids who are not neurotypical.

His grades are good (mostly, this past year they fell because he didn't do the work). I don't think they're as good as they could be.

You are right, I need to get him in with a psychiatrist to see what he really needs. I just hate the idea of meds for him, for a whole lot of reasons. We have several friends whose kids need meds and they are helping, but for us, the side effects are extremely concerning.

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But you have not tried them to say there are side effects.

I am very familiar with the seat cushion, it's to distracting, a plastic band around the legs of his chair would he better.

But he bottom line is the medication stops impulsive behavior (when given the right dose you don't see a change in personality) and his brain lacks that he is not trying to act out he doesn't have the ability to control himself. This is impulse disorder and no matter how many time you ask his brain is not wired that way.

Best of luck.

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Is the medication for impulse disorder different than what is generally prescribed for ADHD? His pediatrician said that the stimulants used for ADHD can affect sleep, appetite and growth. He's already way smaller than his peers (he's 10, and most 7 year olds are as big or bigger than he is). Plus he was born addicted and has a very obsessive/addictive personality already, so I have tried to avoid any and all meds whenever possible.

I am willing to try if it comes to that (and I'm here now, because I think it has come to that), but I want as much info as Ican get rather than just having a doctor give him what everyone else has instead of what he truly needs.

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I am curious are you watching the play thearpy? Is he able to express things that are going on inside himself, not sure with his brother there he will do this. Counseling is a major part of helping kids with ADHD understand when their behavior is not appropriate and how to change it.

There are many things you can work on if he is under weight, make sure he is eating the right kind if food, increase his protein in take. Once you see the benefits to having a child who takes the proper medication ( the child acts almost normal, you/I will do anything for this becuase when you have lived with them not acting normal it is very painful) these benefits out weight everything.

There are different medication for different issues, yes some medication help stop impulsive behavior, but it is also training them to stop their behavior.

I would also recommend you not think that just because his parents are xxx he will be xxx. I had parents that we xxx but I never xxx. If you look at research for children with ADHD the best thing for them is medication( remember his brain is lacking things he needs and the medication helps this), thearpy and role modeling appropriate behavior and school intervention and the sooner these are in place the more successful the child will be.

All of this is a lot to take in but if you start with medication first, these other things are much more helpful for the child becuase they can cope and deal with everyday life. I can't tell you what a different person my son is when his medication wears off.. Night a day. Also ADHD gets better the more they mature..

Best of luck, big hugs we are all here for you, there are so many wonderful parents here to support you when you need us.... One day at a time.

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Thank you for all of this. I'm so overwhelmed but I'm going to call tomorrow to get him re-evaluated. Maybe this time the path will be more clear and we can get him into other therapy as well.

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Know we have all been there. Here is one bit of advice, "if it is working keep doing", so if he is doing well in thearpy you should see some improvement in daily life ( clearly not right away.. give it time)

This is a journey and a lot of us have been there, know we are here for you.

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Doing it "one more time" used to drive me crazy but wiser moms wrote that it's a victory if it stops after one more time.

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Exactly! But what about in school, how that's interpreted by the teachers? What about in adulthood, when a cop tells him to stop, and he takes another step?

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This was the main reason i put him on Concerta - grades were a seconday concern. The only long term effect was eating too much now that he's off meds as a habit developed by concerta causing 12 hours of fasting.

I asked my son (age 18) and he says (a) he kind of grew out of the tics that bug people and (b) now he uses his phone for the same purpose.

Classrooms and social situations with large groups of peers were very hard.

Wrestling team helped in middle school. Being outside by water is good.

Still not a social butterfly, but finally happier in junior college firefighting academy.

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A 504 plan was a must for us.

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Teachers already making reasonable accommodations made it easy for us to ask for same wonderful treatment my son was getting be carried on. Teachers and elementary school principal felt praised and helped us write 504 to assure future teachers did same (which not all wanted to do.)

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Does he have a 504 plan. I would look into that

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He doesn't, because I have no idea what would be on it.... the teachers have all been willing to accommodate his needs, but his needs seem like they constantly change, and what worked before no longer does.

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If his needs changes then you have a meeting to change his accommodation. I would get him one before he get a teacher that is not so accommodating and you really need one. also you can look up online 504 plan accommodation to get idea. you can also find sample letter for requesting a 504 plan from the school online.

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Thank you, this helps. Since this is his last year in elementary school, I do want to get a 504 in place for middle school. I just didn't know where to start.

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Okay, if I was overwhelmed before, I don't know what to call it now! I never expected so many quick and helpful responses. Thank you all so much for the support... It's been hard to come by. I'm so grateful to every one of you who took the time to respond. You have no idea how much it helped. Hoping to be able to pay it forward soon!

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Medication is definitely a hard choice to make for almost all parents. We are just starting to explore it for my son. Though a big light bulb moment for me was how well my son responds to caffeine, which is basically an OTC stimulant. I gave him some on a hunch, and was kinda blown away by the change.

Here’s some school accommodation ideas from Dr. Russell Barkley, an ADHD specialist whom quite a few of us refer to a lot. You may not need ALL of them, but it should give you some ideas. I found adapting them for home has been helpful as well.

russellbarkley.org/factshee...

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Just curious... there are over the counter caffeine pills, I wonder how well these would work for some parents who did not want to go the traditional medication route.

I take them for my migraines.

Just a thought.

Thanks for sharing

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Yeah - I’ve thought about caffeine pills. (Partially because I don’t like giving him too much sugar, but that’s the only way he likes caffeinated beverages. Same as me! Lol.) Though Im a bit too nervous to try a concentrated pill form. But an intervention specialist at my son’s school told me another mom had her keep Mountain Dew on hand at school incase the dad ever forgot to give her child his meds in the morning. It takes about 20-30 mins to kick in for my son.

The main reasons I don’t give it to him too often is that the caffeine amount is not as regulated in drinks & OTC forms - you wouldn’t be getting as consistent a dosage. Plus, it does also increase his heart rate, which I don’t like doing without being monitored by a physician. (Maybe when he’s an adult.) It is also prone to some of the same side effects of stimulant medication. So, I just use it if he really needs to focus or is going off the rails (or we’re heading towards a situation where he would go off the rails.) I give him either an ounce or two of my coffee, or about 1/2 can of Coke.

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Thank you for the resource.... that's going in my to-do/read pile today! I've thought about caffeine before but never tried it. Coincidentally, I took the kids out to lunch yesterday and let them get soda as a treat. We usually stick to non-caffeinated soda, bit they had one of those cool Coke machines with the touchscreen and I didn't argue when they asked for cherry vanilla coke instead of the non-cola version.

Then we went school shopping, and stopped in a few open houses on the way home. It was one of the easiest afternoons we've had in a looong time. Not perfect, and it's highly possible that it went so well because it was all about them, but I'm willing to try maybe some tea in the mornings and see what happens.

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My oldest grandson in the past has done whistling, tongue clicking and making random noises when he hasn't been stable on his ADHD medication The doctor described as kind of a tic. I really don't even think he realized he was doing it half the time

His mother used to clear her throat all the time until she got stable on her medication

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There are many options when it comes to medications also. Talk to your child’s doctor or psychiatrist about your concerns. We chose to go the route of medication recently and while it was a tough decision I’m so glad we did. It made a huge difference in his school day and his confidence in turn.

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I had a chat with him today about respecting others' rights to quiet when he's asked to stop the noises. I reminded him that school is starting soon and that won't be tolerated, that he needs to stop when asked and remember not to start when the teacher is talking or it's quiet work time. He said he does it because he's bored, like a vocal fidget. I told him we could try other, more physical fidgets to see if they help him stay focused and quiet, but I wonder if it's really so voluntary....

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It is great he is talking about it I would encourage medication and more activities at home, we keep jig saw puzzles in the room even when we watch TV, have fidget spinner when we go places, Rubic cubes in ever car, we try not to allow an idle mind because this causes misbehavior especially when his medication has worn off. This for us is not as much an issue when he is on his regular medication, but we don't want him to "look for something to do"...

Somewhere I heard having a mind with ADHD is "like having a Ferrari on roller skates.."

It sounds like you are plant the seed for a different kind if school year.

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We bought a little basket today to keep smaller fidget toys in. He'll choose a different one to take to school each day, so hopefully he won't get bored. He brings stuff to do wherever we go, but lately he's not interested once we get where we're going, and then he finds trouble. It's hard to keep him occupied, because the novelty wears off quickly.

He does love puzzles too!

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Fidgets & squishies do help my son at school. The downside is he always loses them - we’ve yet to have one make it back home. Lol! So, I need to figure out something for that.

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When you first posted, I was curious if perhaps he had developed some tics. Though as my son was diagnosed with Tourette this year, I thought maybe I was reading too much into it since it’s definitely on my brain.

If there is the potential for tics, I would definitely start taking notes of what things you see that may have been tics from as far back as you can remember, through today & the future. It will help if any tic disorder diagnosis ever need to be made. Most tic disorders peak around the tween years, and start to settle down during high school.

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