Does my son have ADHD?

Around January this year, my husband and I got the dreaded summons from our son’s kindergarten teacher to meet with her about a problem with Lawrence. It was not a complete surprise – she had told us that she had some concerns. Lawrence was having some mild behavioral problems, in that he was having trouble conforming to the classroom structure.

I knew what she was talking about. I had observed him myself in class, when I took the morning off to help with the Halloween party. He ran everywhere in the room instead of walking. Unlike most of the other children (there were a couple of boys who acted like him), he fidgeted and talked out of turn.

There was some good news. He was that he was doing well academically (and in fact his grades even improved as the school year went on). The only area he was having a problem in was handwriting. He was far behind the other children. Incidentally, my husband and I both had problems with our handwriting in school.

Lawrence had had a fairly easy and successful time at preschool, and none of these issues had come up. The structure there was looser, with only some pure learning – numbers, letters and things like safety. The bulk of the time was spent doing art projects, music, and most importantly for Lawrence, three long periods outside on the playground. But kindergarten was a different situation. It was three hours long, with only one ten minute recess break.

His teacher was working with him to help him internalize some of the school rules – no running in the classroom, no talking while the teacher’s talking. She drilled into him that when he came into class, he was to hang up his knapsack and jacket on the back of his chair instead of throwing them on the floor. She did such a good job that he even did this when he came home without any prompting from us. So she was making progress.

However, at the end of the school year, Lawrence’s teacher was still concerned about was how he was going to do in first grade. Not only would his school day be twice as long, but, although she didn’t come out and say it, I got the impression that she thought that neither of the first grade teachers would have enough patience with his particular personality and its challenges within the class structure. Given how wonderful she had been with him, I thought it was unlikely that anyone would be as patient and willing to spend extra time with him.

So we’ve set up an appointment to have him evaluated by a pediatric psychiatrist (he was already evaluated by a neurologist to rule out any neurological issues, especially with the handwriting problem). It’s important to get a diagnosis. It helps strengthen your case when you go to the school and ask for accommodations. Of course, the subject of whether he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder came up. His behavior seemed to have all the earmarks, and after all, my husband, mother and I all have it. So, we shall see. I’m not sure how I’ll feel if he does have ADHD. I’m concerned about him being put on medication. But I do want an answer.

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