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Can't cope with DS (nearly 5), I genuinely suspect he had ADHD

(37 Posts)
BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 14:28:24

Posting here for traffic as I am desperate and DH and DD are suffering too.

DS has always been what a friend of mine, infant teacher, describes "at the busy end of the busy spectrum". He can not sit still, he can not finish a meal, doesn't ever listen to me, expects immediate attention when he yells, had no concept of patience, waiting, taking turns etc and if he doesn't like a situation (ie: where he is not the centre of attention) he will disrupt it (eg: push his sister down the stairs, she is nearly 2). He is prone to huge tantrums. It doesn't help that he is big (125 cm, age 7 clothes) and old in his school year (starts school in September, 5th birthday is the week he starts school) and bored to tears of nursery. He will not take "No" for an answer.

I am constantly cross and shouty with him, and have to supress the urge to hit him, and cry a lot. Sometimes I give in the crying. In fact often. I can't handle him anymore. He is rude, defiant and sometimes down right dangerous. DH is extremely short tempered with him. I work 3 days a week and last week I took a half day sick just to have some calm and sleep.

I know a lot of other 4 yo boys, many from a few weeks old (villagey baby groups etc) and they are all calmer, better behaved and more mature than DS. I genuinely suspect that he has ADHD. I have mentioned it to my HV who said it wouldn't be apparent yet. Really? He ticks every single item on this list of symptoms I found on Wikipedia (I know.... but you've got to start somewhere):

Predominantly inattentive type symptoms as listed by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health may include:[

Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new or trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
Not seem to listen when spoken to
Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
Struggle to follow instructions.

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type symptoms may include:
Fidget and squirm in their seats
Talk nonstop
Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
Be constantly in motion
Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities
and also these manifestations primarily of impulsivity:
Be very impatient
Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
Blurts out comments better left unsaid (not always innapropriate)
Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games

Every single one of them.

Is he "just being 4", albeit a "busy" one? Should I persue HV more? Leave it? Wait for him to start school and see what effect that has on him ? But I really need some kind of help, because I just can not deal with him. I am not a shouty person, but he has had me yelling obsecenities across a campsite and burst into tears....... and this kind of scene is happening too often.

BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 14:29:09

Grrr, "Has" not "had" in title.

Bypass HV, ask GP for a ref to a (now I am not sure if paed or psych) specislist

MultumInParvo Sun 28-Jul-13 14:38:05

Well. I tick all the 'inattentive' boxes.

My ds 11 ticks all the 'hyperactive' boxes.

I don't believe he or I have an illness. We are just ourselves!

I can imagine its difficult for you, but what would labelling him do? He would still be the same, unless you drug him.

Starting school will help settle him I think, there is structure and more mental stimulation.

FrussoHathor Sun 28-Jul-13 14:40:38

OP you sound stressed to the brim. Often children can get bored and frustrated just before they start school, especially those that are amongst the oldest in their year.

Just a couple of questions;
Is he worse now it is the holidays? A firm routine and perhaps a visual timetable/calendar may help him so he can see what is planned.
Because he is big for his age could people be expecting more? Eg, expecting him to act like a 7yo even though he is emotionally much younger than his size suggests.
Does he have a lot of toys out an available to him? My dc play for longer with one toy when there is less available.

If your instincts are saying that there is something else then speak to your GP.

coffeewineandchocolate Sun 28-Jul-13 14:43:48

it sounds entirely possible but it's very difficult to get a diagnosis before age 7. Professionals are reluctant to label children and like to give them time to settle. Referrals for assessment are usually done by gp, school nurse or pediatrician if already involved. in my experience in w. York's most of the assessments are done by Camhs and can take a while (waiting list, assessment time)

once the assessment is done it can help regarding school support but is unlikely to make much real difference at home. I would suggest speaking to your hv or local children's centre about parenting courses (run by people with experience of spring parents with children with more challenging behaviors) to help you develop strategies to manage the difficult behaviour.

Do you have anyone who could babysit to give you the odd break?

HeySoulSister Sun 28-Jul-13 14:43:48

I think you need strategies to deal with him

If he has ADHD what would a diagnosis change?

mercibucket Sun 28-Jul-13 14:45:33

what is it about the things on that list that makes you so stressed and angry with him? to help get a better picture.

what kind of discipline system do you use with him, and have you ever thought about a course eg positive parenting, triple p? i found them really useful.

he does just sound like my boys were, apart from the pushing his sister down stairs bit, which could just be standard jealousy but needs a firm hand. but my kids are v v active. they do sports for hours every day to keep them tired

Bike, I've pmed you.

Frustratedartist Sun 28-Jul-13 15:07:19

Bit of a flippant answer here, & I do sympathise because you're clearly stressed.
But your own user name is BikeRunSki - you sound pretty energetic too.
5 is young for a dx of ADHD - I'm not saying he won't turn out to have it. My experience of boys is they're like puppies- need a lot of exercise and regular feeding!
Be careful he's not starting to fulfil the label of being the 'bad child' - pushing his sister downstairs - because thats the way he gets attention. And be careful she's not taunting him into some actions -especially if he is a bit impulsive.
I find our family all get on best when we're outside - park or country walk.

BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 15:19:48

I am worried about labelling him, yes, and I do appreciate that diagnosis would be difficult and unhelpful at this age, and wouldn't change anything. Maybe I am looking for some help in strategies to manage him. I have looked into parenting courses for children with challenging behaviour, but all the Children's Centre did was give me an NSPCC pamphlet. The only parenting courses they do are for new parents under 25. Coffee we are in W Yorks too. We have tried the "Happier, Easier, Calmer" principles, but over praising the tiny stuff and ignoring the bad is not v helpful when he thumps and injures other children. Stickers for good behaviour (and sad faces for bad) used to work, but seem to have lost their sheen.

No babysitters - all grandparents 200+ miles away, only local friends he (and DD) would settle with are single parents or partner works away. Coffee is right though, I really need a break, and going to work isn't really it!

What annoys me mostly on that list -
He can not "be" be himself. HE won't play with his toys by himself and wants me there the whole time. If I need to do something else, he yells and fusses.
He moves constantly - if he is watching TV/DVD he juggles his feet, get up and down from the sofa, climbs on the furniture, shakes his head. It is exhausting.
He also shouts out random noises or words sporadically - that can't be normal can it. It upsets me and makes DD cry.
His default mode is running and shouting. He has no idea of chnaging his behaviour for different situations- fine for playgrounds, less fine for inside. And he makes a sort of high pitched wailing sound most of the time. I am not even sure he knows he is doing it.

He sends hours (maybe two a day) playing out in the garden - trampoline and slide - or swimming or riding his bike and never seems to get tired. He goes to bed at 7.30, settles and the gets up and down until 11 pm or so when we go to bed. We get no adult time! We've tried putting him to bed later, but basically he will get out of bed as long as he knows we are up.

He is so distracted by the smallest things, and so unfocused it can take him over an hour to get dressed. He'll put one leg in his boxers, then look at some fluff on the carpet, pick up a book, walk around a bit, boxers will fall off. He'll put his head in his t shirt, then forget about his arms....

Eating is similar. His record is 1 hr 40 mins for 2 cocktail sausage rolls. he just fidgets when he is "sitting down" for a meal. By "Sitting down" i mean he comes to the table, has a bite or 2, gets off his chair, wanders abou, get back on, insists that he is cold/uncomfortable and needs a jumper/blanket/cushion, has another bite, says he is full up. For cold/uncomfortable/full up, read "bored of sitting down", but picnics or meals or out are no better,

The time wasting drives me crazy. And the food wasting. And the disobedience and ignorance. How am I ever supposed to get anything done if he won't cooperate.

I don't think people have greater expectations of him than his age, not people we know anyway, and I am not concerned about the odd person on the bus etc. ]

His routine is not that different now it is holidays, as he goes to nursery 3 days a week for childcare regardless of term times.

Discipline seems to have broken down into bribery and shouting.

The light as the end of the tunnel is that he has had 5 settling afternoons at school and loves his new teacher, so maybe his behaviour will click once he starts.

BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 15:23:06

Frustrated I am sporty yes, but in controlled situations. I can sit still long enough to eat a meal or get dressed and don't feel the need to yell all day long. We go out cycling as a family as often as we can - most week ends - and this is one of the times that he does have a bit of focus. He also rides his bike out in the street (cul de sac) most days.

What is he like at nursery? Do they have the same concerns are is their handling of his behaviour and expectations just more suitable for him?

tallulah Sun 28-Jul-13 15:33:36

He sounds very much like my 6 yo DD. One of my older DSs has ADHD so we were looking for it to a certain extent and once she was 3 it was clear there was something going on with her. I tried a referral to the community paeds just before she started school and on the basis that she managed to play quietly with some strange toys in a new place for 30 mins the Dr said she was NT. hmm

Once she went to school the differences between her and the other girls were very apparent. With the SENCos help we got referred again just before she turned 6 and now have a dx of ADHD. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with her but it helps with outsiders.

Everywhere she went (holiday club, swimming lessons, ballet class) I got complaints about her behaviour and found myself saying we thought there might be something wrong with her, which sounded like an excuse. Now we can tell people in advance and they can let us know if they aren't prepared to deal with her.

She is constantly moving and TBH it makes me itch sometimes. You wouldn't believe how irritating it is unless you were experiencing it yourself. Luckily we don't have a younger child.

FWIW I tried applying for parenting classes. The sure start ones were during the day - not very helpful when you work. The council ones had a long waiting list and after waiting about 6 months I got a letter to say if I didn't fit some criteria (they didn't specify what) they were cancelling all the people on the wait list.

BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 15:35:50

He is often in trouble at nursery for "being too giddy", not listening and hitting/punching/pushing. They manage this with a sticker chart, but don't seem to make any effort to get him to behave better, but reward it when he is better behaved of his own accord. He used to love to please people, but really isn't bothered now.

BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 15:37:16

Tallulah, what is NT?

chillinwithmyyonis Sun 28-Jul-13 15:47:36

I think you should wait until he starts school and see how does there. How his behaviour is in the classroom, how he compares to the other children, if the teacher flags up any concerns, if he's compliant with what hes being asked to do. If youre going down the assessment for ADHD etc, a paed or psych will normally want to see that the behaviour is the same in more than one setting.

My dd is nearly 5 and I believe she is somewhere on that hyperactive spectrum, she was a premature baby too which are at higher risk for suffering from attention/hyperactivity disorders. She sounds quite similar to your son at home, but she is able to function well at school, gets on well with other children and when we out and about ie. She can sit still and eat in a restaurant. But at times, I feel like you, it is exhausting to deal with a child that is never still.

Also, from what I can see, quite a few of dd's classmates seem to suffer with excess energy and play deaf ears to their parents demands. Maybe its the age? Especially if he is nearly 5, he could be really frustrated by the company of younger children in nursery and will do better amongst peers more closer in age. My dd is one of youngest but even she found the last term of preschool before starting reception, a bit 'young' and unchallenging as it were.

mrsmindcontrol Sun 28-Jul-13 15:48:10

OP, my now 7yr old DS was given a working diagnosis of ADHD at just turned 5yrs old. He has since had this confirmed as a true diagnosis.
Your sons behavioural symptoms sound very very similar to my sons.

Whilst I'm not in the business of wanting to make things more serious than they are, I would agree with you that your son DOES need review. Definitely bypass the HV and see your GP who will likely refer you on yo CAMHS or a psychologist. We had school involved at this stage which added weight to our view that he wasn't NT...but its likely your son will be at school by the time you get anywhere with a referral anyway. Do nursery have similar problems with him? Their report will be useful.

Parenting courses were, for us, something of a waste of time as they often see for parents of ADHD children. Yes, there are ways of parenting better but they are basically common sense (praise the good, ignore the bad etc etc).

What helped ME & my relationship with my son which, by the time of his initial working diagnosis, was very poor indeed, was the diagnosis. An acknowledgement that it wasn't my fault, that he wasn't being deliberately 'bad' and that we had some form of support available (medication, OT input, statement, SENCO work etc)
So, I have to say that I fundamentally disagree with those posters who say that a diagnosis makes little difference. To me it made a VAST psychological difference.

Good luck OP. please PM me if you want to discuss, I know exactly where you are & how painful and lonely that place is.

formicadinosaur Sun 28-Jul-13 16:43:19

Show your lust to your GP and ask for a formal assessment

formicadinosaur Sun 28-Jul-13 16:43:34

List even

carlywurly Sun 28-Jul-13 16:49:00

Sorry, inappropriate grin from me at that auto correct!

In seriousness, I really sympathise and would push for a paed referral. Bypass the gp, their knowledge of these things (in my experience!) is limited.

Rainbowinthesky Sun 28-Jul-13 16:55:15

I echo others. Make a list on paper from what you've posted and go to your GP for referral to CAMHs.

HouseAtreides Sun 28-Jul-13 17:14:13

I first asked DD1 to be assessed for ADHD/ADD at age 4. They said it was too early to tell really, but gave her an assessment and said she was fine because she sat still for the doctor (after whirling round the waiting room like the Tasmanian devil!)
Finally, at age 11, she has a diagnosis of ADHD! (I did not press for a particular diagnosis- in fact we were seeing the paed for something else completely).

HouseAtreides Sun 28-Jul-13 17:14:31

asked *for!

merlincat Sun 28-Jul-13 17:48:45

Op, take a look at the recent thread on AIBU on this subject. The thread became somewhat heated and much bollocks was spouted, but some excellent advice too. There is everything to gain from a diagnosis, if appropriate. Expectations can be managed at home in the classroom and understanding of how your little chap experiences the world; surely a good thing for your relationship with him.

Frustratedartist Sun 28-Jul-13 17:53:21

Having read your next post - I do think go to GP. Could the shouting out words be vocal tics?
Two of mine have Tourettes, and my DS with it can be agitated and finds it difficult to settle at times. Conversely he's doing very well at school, where the structure really helps him.
If your son does have a dx try to separate (in your head) his behaviours from him as a person. Some of my DS's tics drive me nuts, but I have to realise they're not his fault and they cause him suffering too.
Maybe make a list of any activities that do help and keep it to hand when he's driving you daft. It's hard to think when you're stressed.
Also Grandparents aren't necessarily helpful or supportive - ours are far away too. Much more helpful to find out what works for you and your family.
Travelling today - so may not post again. Good luck !

coffeewineandchocolate Sun 28-Jul-13 18:09:34

I rate 'triple p' as a parenting course and if you are In w.York's it seems to be popular with schools, children's centres etc. Another good holistic approach is the family links nurturing course which also seems to be popular.

I would also go to your gp and when ds starts school in september ask for a meeting with school to discuss your concerns from the start. this can bypass a lot of umming and ahhing about whether the behavior is settling in behaviour..

magso Sun 28-Jul-13 18:30:44

First of all do whatever you have to do to look after yourself and get some breathing time. Its very demoralising when standard parenting methods do not seem to work. I used to use a kichen timer set to 5 or later 10 minutes to have time to drink a cuppa or finish a chore, during which time ds (set up with play/TV etc) was not to interrupt me! He gradually learned to manage. Before this I would give him special time where I played with him doing what he wanted with him for a set time. He gradually got better at accepting time limits and holding off with the requests during my time. A timer with a visual representation of time passing - like a sand timer can be particularly useful. You mentioned bribes but rewards for achieving a set target (such as the 5 minutes of no interrupting Mummy/shouting/pushing) is a useful technique - so give yourself credit!

I would say if your gut instinct is that something is different with how your son behaves and learns to control his behaviour, then you should trust your instincts, and ask for referral to the community paediatrician. The referral will take a time to come through, so he will have started school by then and possibly the picture be a little clearer. Children who do have a neurodevelopmental disability often find school challenging so if there is a difficulty then you are already lined up to start finding support. The other thing that occurred to me is to consider referral to the occupational therapist to rule out sensory processing difficulties. My son has quite a few difficulties (autism/ADHD/LD) including sensory processing disabilities so can be calmed a little by touch and sound- and every little helps!

All children need parenting skills tailored to their needs but some children need parents with specialist skills- my son is one of them.
I do not know if your son neurologically typical (NT) or has some difficulties. I can only tell you that I had similar worries for ds (now 13) and was at times at my wits end and physical limits. Getting to understand his difficulties (a slow process) and how best for adults around him to support him was both helpful for ds and better for everyone him- and by helping me to understand it was not my parenting causing the difficulties and that he was not being deliberately naughty/hurtful/dangerous - as Mrs mind said helped my self-confidence (at an alltime low) and my relationship with ds.

BikeRunSki Sun 28-Jul-13 20:41:38

Thank you for your help everyone. Mixed opinions. I am really a bit lost now as to whether this is normal but bored behaviour, for someone desperate to go to school, but with a younger sister, who is just bloody minded. He has been looking forward to school since his 4th birthday - lots of his peers at nursery had their 4 th birthdays in August, then started school. Come the first week of September he was 4. "Can I go to school now Mummy?", er, no Sweetie, there' s this cut off a week before your birthday. At the same time, his little sister started walking and having her own opinions, so our time at home is sometimmes scaled to her (he does plenty of age appropriate activities of his own,vut there is only one of me ! DH is great at w/ e though.) All this coincided with me going back to work after mat leave with dd.

He is off to spend a week with Granny (300 miles away) by himself soon. She (my DM) is aware of my concerns and I'll ask her to see what she thinks when DS is in a different setting to usual without DD. Part of me thinks he just plays up to me. Whilst he is away I may go to see GP.

Having said all that, he was fairly ok this afternoon, played Lego in his room (albeit with DH), ate his tea and shared a bath with DD nicely. Although he is still crashing about upstairs.

notapizzaeater Mon 29-Jul-13 00:01:11

Huddersfield Camhs currently has a 2 year wait sad the quicker you start rattling cages the better. My ds is going next week to be assessed he is 11 in September and the EP was involved from him starting school.

glimmer Mon 29-Jul-13 04:26:09

Whatever the reasons, as some have pointed out, you need to find new strategies that work for you. Any way to get them is fine. GP might be a good route to access some help.

BikeRunSki Mon 29-Jul-13 07:26:20

notapizzseater. Interesting, we are in Huddersfield (well, Kirklees anyway ).

PolterGoose Mon 29-Jul-13 18:27:00

Hi Bike it does sound to me like there is enough going on to seek assessment, take your list to the GP and ask for referral, ideally to a developmental paediatrician, keep a diary and notes and video anything that others don't see. I would also advise reading up a bit on sensory processing/sensory integration as it sounds like your ds is sensory seeking, a referral to an OT would help identify this, a good book to get started with is 'The Out of Sync Child'. A lot of children with ADHD, ASD and other SNs have sensory problems and the interventions can be very effective (and easy and cheap)

I'd also suggest trying out strategies that are used with children with ADHD and similar, they'll help ds if he does have a diagnosable condition and won't harm him if he doesn't.

Trigglesx Mon 29-Jul-13 18:46:59

Bike Whew. Okay. Having read through this, I have to say .... do not wait to have him assessed. If you feel something is going on, you are probably right. As Polter said, take your list into the GP and insist that you need a referral to a developmental paediatrician. If the GP fobs you off with the nonsense of "boys are slower to develop" and stuff like that, push harder. If they still don't cooperate, contact the nursery and see if you can speak to the school nurse that works that area and get a referral to a paediatrician through the school nurse. I say that mainly because that is what happened to us - fobbed off by numerous GPs at our surgery, school recognised there was a problem, so school nurse referred to paed.

The assessment process takes AAAAAAGES!!! That's why I'm saying don't wait. From the time we got assistance from the school until DS1 had his statement for school was at least 10 months - and I was told by many many people that 10 months was unbelievably fast!! (our school was brilliant and pushed things along very well) Also, he was 4yo when the dx was made (almost 5) and it was spot on. Your HV is wrong - it can easily be apparent at 4yo. Believe me, it was VERY apparent with DS1 (still is!).

Also ask for referral to OT if possible, again as Polter said, to start looking into the sensory stuff. The sooner you get on the waiting list the better - again, it takes forever to get in!!!

The books Polter recommended are also excellent help. Hmmm... maybe I should have just copied Polter's post. hmm grin

Anyway.. now.. from the standpoint of myself, who has a just turned 7yo DS1 who has the dxs of ADHD, ASD, dyspraxia, sensory problems, speech and language delay, and hypermobility, the more info you get about how to moderate his behaviour, the better.

Some things are going to probably be used by his school - such as visual timetables, sand timers (or electronic ones), stickers/reward charts, now/then boards. If they're using visual now/then or timetables, ask them if you can have one to use at home that is the same. Just explain that he is struggling with this and you feel that the consistency of having it at home and school may help him with his behaviour in both places. Anything that they are doing that is having any positive reaction as well - see if it's able to be implemented at home. We did this and it really helped - school using it reinforced use of it at home.

A lot of children with ASD/ADHD do not respond well to negative consequences. DS1 responds very well (most of the time) to positive consequences - rewards if he does well. He gets loads of praise (or stickers or computer time depending on the situation) for good behaviour. When he struggles, I do try to see WHY he's doing what he's doing. Sometimes if you chat with him a little, you can almost get a glimmer of "his logic" behind it (which believe me, bears NO resemblance to normal logic grin).

There's a short video clip that's been linked on MN SNs board previously about how it feels to have the sensory processing disorder - I watched it and thought "Oh how horrible it would feel not to be able to shut all that extra noise out - I'd be so stressed and upset!" And I realised that is the reality for DS1 pretty much all of the time - and again, if I can see it from his perspective sometimes it helps me to maintain calm and deal with it better.

Don't get me wrong - it can drive you nuts - he "helped" his 3.11 yo brother today and they were washing their hair using toilet water shock ... in about the 2-3 minutes it took me to move laundry from the washer to dryer and reload the washer. He thought it was fine "I flushed it first so there was no poo in it." grin What can you say to that, really?

Trigglesx Mon 29-Jul-13 18:47:14

wow... shock apologies for the book!

Hallybear79 Mon 29-Jul-13 18:47:53

I had a similar situation with my son but suspected ASD as well as ADHD. I told my HV on so many occasions about my concerns only to be told "no, he's just being a boy". So i this point i thought it was just me being a paranoid mother. He then started school last September. After the 1st term, his teacher had me in & told me she was at her witts end & suspected he had aspergers &/or ADHD.
Although i've always known it deep down i was devastated. I went to the GP with a list of his symptoms & also some notes his teacher had made. I was then refered to a paediatrician who then refered him to CAMHs. We're due to have our 1st appointment with them in 2 weeks, so it has been a really long process so far.
I think if your son has ADHD, i suspect school will also pick up on it. But maybe its worth discussing your concerns with his teacher as well.
In the mean time winebrewwinebrewwinebrew it's bloody hard work. I've literally learnt to take a day at a time or else otherwise i'd of gone insane with worry.

PolterGoose Mon 29-Jul-13 19:08:31

Triggles you made me grin and blush

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