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Single Mom of 5 year old in Pre-K with ADHD. He is on an IEP and has services.

SportyMama profile image
14 Replies

I am a single mom to a 5 year old boy who has ADHD. I started behavioral services with him through the state when he was 2 years old, and he is on an IEP in a Special Education class in Pre-k (he did 2 years of preschool for ages 3-4 which was part time through the state as well in a similar setting). We moved to a new school district and he started at the beginning of the school year and it has gone absolutely terrible. We have had to set up a 1:1 para for him, BCBA and OT services. I have a family advocate guiding us through the discussions and rewriting the IEP and my son has been suspended twice in one week now for his outbursts. They are raging outbursts and are physical (hitting, kicking, biting). To say that I am devastated is an understatement. Has anyone dealt with something similar? I feel very alone in all of this. Talking to other parents doesn't help. I feel very judged and just not understood. I literally don't want to talk to anyone because I feel like I can just burst into tears at any moment. I have been waiting for months for at home services through the state, and I was just told that I should be getting a call in 2 days. Things move at a snail's place while my urgency to get help is so high. No child psychologists take insurance and I cannot afford out of pocket costs for that. And, my son doesn't qualify for ABA services under insurance because he doesn't have an Autism diagnosis. If anyone has any experience to share that would be appreciated.

14 Replies
STEM_Dad profile image

Welcome to the forum.

I can't identify specifically with your situation, but I commend you for doing all that you are to get help for your son and for yourself.

I hope others who can relate better will respond as well.

Try to be patient with yourself.


This is the closest similarity to your situation.

My oldest daughter (stepdaughter) had behavioral issues at about age two (years before I married her mom), and then much more in her teens. She was not diagnosed with ADHD, but probably should have been. Her rages were at home, and mostly directed at her mom (who I'll admit was very controlling at the time) and only somewhat towards me. She controlled herself much better at school, but I think that it was because her motivation was to spend as much time with her friends as possible, though she did act out in other ways at school.

Our daughter's behavior did get bad enough that she was put in the juvenile system for a few months... and she did shape up, but it's bad that it came to that.

(My eldest is now 29, and recently her doctor asked her if she's ever been diagnosed with ADHD, because he sees the signs. She's grown up to be a great mom, though.)

My other three kids (ages 20, 10 and 8) haven't exhibited any rages...not so far. Now my wife and I are divorced, but co-parenting well, so I'm hoping that the kids continue to develop as well as they have so far.

Beachbum04 profile image

I can relate! My 5 yr old son has several diagnoses of ADHD, CAS, and we are having neurodevelopment testing done at the end of this month for other issues. I suspect DAD, SPD, and possibly ASD. The school is also testing him for learning disabilities and a behavior analysis. He has already done 2 yrs of developmental preschool and has an IEP. He has been in ST for his CAS for 3 yrs, been doing OT for 5 months. It is such frustrating ride! He was getting suspended from school twice a week before the end of the year and kicking, punching, biting other students and teachers as well as using agressive language. I had noticed he got particularly bad when he was hungry, but didnt know how to express it. I read high protein snacks every 2 hrs really helps keep levels high in kids witg adhd so we were doing cheese sticks, beef jerky, nuts, kids protein bars, etc every 2 hrs at school.

I always feel so judged by other parents and i am doing everything i can! He has a good loving home, stable environment with very consistent routines. His sister and him were adopted from foster care and bio parents have a family history of adhd. He had a rough couple of years from being exposed to drugs, alcohol, smoking, neglect, malnutrition before he was removed, in the system and eventually in a forever home. But i bet he would still be like this even without all that.

Are you doing any adhd meds? The turning point for us was having a PA see him once instead of his normal dr and said she (because of my desperation)was going to try him on adderal, very low dose. Its not FDA recommended just because there is very little research on younger than 6. But seriously he was just unmanageable, couldnt even take him into public as he would squirm away from me and take off running. He had no fear of cars, run right out in front of buses, no matter how many times we have taught him.

We did 2.5 mg adderol in the morning. No improvement for the first week,then we noticed he no longer would wake up at 5am and immediately run around the house screaming. But around 11am he would start the screaming, hitting, kicking again. So after a month we added another 2.5 mg dose the school gives him at noon. That got him through the day and he was finally like a new kid. He was actually fun to be around. He started making friends finally and was doing amazing. And then everything went back to the way it used to be. I dont know if his body got used to it and needed more? We increased the morning dose but didnt see a great change. Now the PA cant prescribe more and is sending us to a psychologist to prescribe him a higher dose. Also doesnt help that there is a shortage of adderol and cant even fill his prescription now. :( so we told the dr and she is working on getting a substitute med that can be filled.

He got suspended this week, first time in 2 months. Its not fun and im exhausted! Nice to have someone who gets it! Thanks for the mentioning the BCBA and para 1:1. That is exactly what he needs and what i need to advocate for from the school. His teachers, principle, therapists and i feel like we've tried everything and nothing works or it will work for awhile and then stop. Redirection, time outs, reward charts, visual schedules with pictures, taking away toys, priviledges, outings/recess, going to bed early, etc. Nothing has worked for long. So i am going to research more and see what else we can try. I work and just cannot have him keep being suspended or i will lose my job!

Pattimum profile image
Pattimum in reply to Beachbum04

Have you asked if the doctor would prescribe him non stimulants on top of stimulants medication? Many parents here were saying that Guanfacine in the afternoon calms the child, it works different pathways in brain than stimulants so it may well be that those other neurotransmitter also need correcting for your child? Kapvay (Clonidine) also supposedly is calming.

In the UK doctors don’t like prescribing 2 ADHD medications but for what I read in US it’s a well established practice.

For my son we just swapped to Atomoxetine and do mono therapy (on stimulants he was aggressive, had rebound and all the neurological side effects) although I’d also recommend Cyproheptadine (sedating antihistamine - which is not sedating my son at all😂But he started sleeping 8pm-7.30am and he is eating sooo much better since on it, so it counteracts the side effect of appetite suppression on Atomoxetine, and also Cyproheptadine is quite cheap if that’s any help).

SportyMama profile image
SportyMama in reply to Pattimum

very helpful!!! I haven’t tried the medicines yet. I am hesitant (but not totally opposed) to it. I will definitely make sure to notate this in case I do end up using meds. Thank you for replying to my post!

eva2022 profile image
eva2022 in reply to SportyMama

I just finished reading “Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medication for Kids.” It is written by two psychiatrists from Yale. I would recommend it to anyone with a child with severe ADHD (like my child).

Beachbum414 profile image
Beachbum414 in reply to Pattimum

Thank you! No I am new here and haven't seen the other posts, so that is very helpful. I will definetly talk to his dr about that!

SportyMama profile image
SportyMama in reply to Beachbum04

one thing I would highly recommend is hiring a family advocate for your IEP. Mine is amazing at just holding the school accountable for providing all services. Hang in there!

Trying1978 profile image

Just wanted to offer my empathy. With my "older kiddos," now 7 & 9 with ADHD diagnoses & on meds, we ALWAYS knew something was going ON when they were younger, but we just could not get preschools, teachers, pediatricians to listen to us or take us seriously. We have a 3 yo girl now as well & we often say we can see the same signs in her & as soon as we can, we are moving on the ADHD issue. So, tbh, good job being on top of this! You should feel good about yourself! I just spent 2 entire yrs of endless appts, research, etc getting some help for my older two while also trying to get back to work myself that could have been made a lot easier if I'd gotten help earlier, as you are doing now! Give yourself a moment of credit, as someone often tells me 😁

SportyMama profile image
SportyMama in reply to Trying1978

thank you! That is very kind of you. I had a hard time convincing my parents and my son’s dad is still in denial. My parents finally are on board as they see the difference everything I have been working on with therapists and changing how we interact with him is helping. It’s definitely a journey! I appreciate your response so much. Best wishes to you on your journey as well!

Home1818 profile image

I very very much relate to everything you described. My son is 7yo now and we’re slowly seeing improvements. I just wanted to reiterate what an amazing job you are doing. You have accessed help and are putting supports in place at such a young age. I fumbled around trying to figure it out without much success from 2.5-6yo. I had zero idea what I was doing. It’s a hard job and people who have not been in this situation will never understand. I don’t talk to most people about it either because I don’t like feeling their judgement. I know it feels impossible to find time to do anything for yourself, but perhaps a therapist for you to talk to you would help?

Sending you understanding and support. It’s incredibly hard and you are not alone.

SportyMama profile image
SportyMama in reply to Home1818

thank you! The process is incredibly confusing! I am forever grateful for Adam’s pediatrician for starting me on the path at such an early age. I have a friend who is the Director of Spec Ed in another area. She was incredibly helpful in explaining things to me. To anyone who has an IEP, I highly encourage hiring an Advocate. That was a game changer!

NYCmom2 profile image

My kids are a little bit older than yours but I can relate to those early days of pre-diagnosis and new diagnosis.

I’ll offer slightly different advice - it’s to focus on what you can control in this moment. You’re doing all the right things for your child but what are you doing to support yourself and help you through this time? The more support you have the easier it will be for both of you.

Some ideas:

Telehealth therapy through your insurance provider.

A parent specific support group online. I like the books, learning modules and online community found on the website:

Have you met with a specialist to see if you also have ADHD? If a child has it there’s a high chance their parent has it (about 50% chance of inheritance). If so, getting treatment for yourself will make this all waayyy easier!

SportyMama profile image
SportyMama in reply to NYCmom2

I love this! Things were going fairly smoothly until the past two weeks where I felt like I was actually coming out of my skin. I did just start looking for support groups the other day which is when I discovered this site. I am going to try find something local (I did, but it looks like the group dissolved during the pandemic). Yes, planning on lining up a counselor for myself too. I appreciate you!

NYCmom2 profile image

two podcasts I like:

Beautiful Complex: Navigating Neurodiverse Parenting

Vision Driven Mom with ADHD: with Tracy Nolan Beerman

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