Help! My 4 year old has ADHD - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Help! My 4 year old has ADHD

dtholmes73 profile image

I am 48 years old, and I adopted my son at birth with the knowledge that his birth father had a severe case of ADHD, combined presentation. During his daycare days, the provider always said she had never seen a child show his amount of anger at such a young age, but I did not think much about it, until he was walking around and would randomly strike other kids for no apparent reason. Once I started paying attention, I found that there were other things like the fact that he seemed to have no fear, never would sit still for anything, and seemed to fixate on certain toys or shows. One day the daycare provider called and stated that something needed to change. I called the pediatrician and scheduled a COVID zoom meeting with him, the daycare provider and myself. He asked many questions and finally said he believed that he could have autism and needed to be assessed.

CDS contacted me and the whirlwind of appointments and calls started. In May, CDS's final decision was that he had ADHD and needed an IEP before entering preschool, which was discussed and done. Then everyone disappeared and no one talked to me about what he needed. They were just gone. I knew that my son had a well child visit coming so I didn't get to scared and just let things role, trying the best I could to initiate a schedule, and positive discipline, though I never knew exactly what I was supposed to do. When we visited the pediatrician, I mentioned that I would like hear my treatment options for the ADHD and he instantly wrote me script for Ritalin, 2.5 ml twice a day. There was no discussion or anything.

Now for the reason I have poured my story here....there is something that does not sit right with me about putting a 4 year old on meds without trying any other options first. I am not naïve and I know that there will come a time that he will probably need meds, but at 4, it just doesn't seem right. Would love to hear some personal insights on this, as I am feeling alone in this process, and I need to learn about this diagnosis so I can advocate appropriately for my precious little man!

Thanks for reading this far, and I am ready for some truths :)

11 Replies

Finding a pediatric psychiatrist who practices integrative medicine may be what you are wanting to seek. We started with medications for my son at 4, and for three years we suffered through no success and increasing issues. It wasn’t until the psychiatrist recommended broad spectrum micronutrients that we had success. There are two companies, Hardy Nutritionals and True Hope. My son uses the Hardy Nutritionals. I just learned True Hope offers their nutrients in lightening sticks, like mixing a drink packet in a bottle of water. I highly recommend looking into them!!

Can you elaborate on the experience of taking broad spectrum micronutrients? How noticeable is it and how long it starts to work? Any study that supports its role and is it supposed to be used together with normal stimulant medication?

If you go to the sites for either brand they have study links. I read studies before making a decision as to which brand to try. The psychiatrist did not recommend one brand over the other. If someone is on medications and starts micronutrients, they should be monitored because medications will likely need to be reduced and could need to be eliminated. In our case, medications for my son were eliminated. My son experienced problems with attention, impulse control, inattentiveness, emotional dysregulation, aggressive outbursts, and tantrums. The doctor increased his micronutrients over a relatively short period of time. He started at one pill twice per day, two pills twice per day, and two pills three times per day. When he hit two pills three times per day it was like a switched was turned on. He has done extremely well ever since. Everyone is different, but this was what worked for him.

Thank you!

My twins were officially diagnosed at age 4 but we knew from at least 1 they were ADHD as their father and his whole family are. We started medication at age 4 because the food/environment/behavior management strategies were not enough and they met their IEP goals in 6 weeks. We continued to use medication, behavior modification, supports, and teaching them to advocate for themselves while they were growing up. Now that they are almost 17 they are doing fairly well for the first time living in a dorm and going to school.

Have you looked at CHADD and Ned Hallowell and John Ratey are also good resources. Beware anyone that says they can cure ADHD. You will need to educate yourself on ADHD and the many therapies available. So many in the medical community either do not believe it exists, believe it cannot exist outside of school-age children (as our first pediatrician), or are quick with a prescription pad. I found that I was educating our last pediatrician on ADHD and comorbids despite at least 1/3 of his practice was ADHD children.

The bad news is that because you know more about your child than anyone else you will have to fight for his needs until adulthood. You will go through many doctors/psychologists/medications until you find a good fit and then it may change. The good news is that you are not alone, there are many resources and supports available to you, and you will learn to see the positives of an ADHD child and the really neat person he will grow into being.

Check out The ADHD Dude! He is on YouTube and has a membership offered on his website. Seriously game changing for me! I finally understand and have tools available to help.

I would be careful here with supplements outside the recommendation of a professional. I was doing research on both Hardy Nutritionals and Truehope and came across the below article regarding TrueHope. It is from quite a few years ago but it always goes to show that we need to investigate thoroughly.

Hi - you may also want to find a therapist that not only specializes in ADHD but also Attachment as this can be another issue that manifests in children who are adopted or fostered and the symptoms look very similar (our adopted son has both)

We were also concerned about medication initially but have learned that it can help as different brains are wired differently - however for our son it is only part of a mix of support solutions and only prescribed after a thorough assessment with both a pediatric psychiatrist and therapist

(one practical issue however is since the pandemic you may find the waiting time to be seen as a new client is long - if your area is anything like ours)

Given you have an IEP it may be worth contacting the team that did that for recommendations on therapists, psychiatrists in your area

Hope this is of help

I understand completely the need to advocate for your child. My child has ADHD as well. I am sorry the pediatrician was not more helpful. Have you considered talking to the pediatrician again and request educational materials or a referral for the pediatric psychiatrist. However, in my experience, a pediatric psychologist or social worker is more apt to spend more time with you and educate you. In my area, we can call the County Social Service office or the Community Outreach office and obtain educational materials. Due to such a young age, I would think someone would provide assistance to educate you as the parent. Have you called your insurance company and asked how they can help? If you did not receive a copy of the IEP from the daycare, then please ask for a copy. It is usually specific to behaviors. Anything you do not understand, ask them over & over until it is clear. I know I had to learn to refocus myself to correct my son. What I mean is only ask him to do one thing at a time. Instead of "put that down and come over here to sit with me". I would have to say, "put that down" and after he had, then "come over here" . If I say too much it's overwhelming. I also had to learn to be patient because he will get things done but he needs more time. If I want to read him a story. A short one was best. Attention was short. Prayers for you and your little man.

You might ask about occupational therapy, too. Our son was diagnosed around the same age as yours (and he also lucked into depression/anxiety as well). The occupational therapist said that jumping on a trampoline can help regulate their emotions, too. And swinging.

More info here:

We started down this road with our (now) 5 year old last year. Before meds, we tried weekly therapy sessions along with recommended supplements overseen by a naturopath. We also did comprehensive bloodwork to look for nutritional gaps. It became clear after a few months that this approach was not working.

My advice: start with therapy and nutrition. Then, get your pediatrician involved. We went and found a child psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD medication management and also got a Neuropsych evaluation.

We're still not perfect, but after 6 months of meds, our son is doing a lot better. Stimulant meds, anxiety meds, and meds for sleep have helped a lot, on top of therapy and nutrition. Best of luck. This is a tough situation.

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