View Full Version : Transition to School


Lunamoth
06-24-15, 07:21 PM
My little girl is starting school in a couple of months and as it gets closer I find myself worrying more and more about how to help her transition. She has not been diagnosed as ADHD. I took her to see a paediatrician who said her symptoms indicate ADHD but he cannot give any diagnosis until she has been at school for 6 months. I am fairly confident she is and, unless I find out otherwise, I parent her with that in mind.

She is a really sweet girl, but generally lives in her own little world. Her emotional outbursts are impressive and people outside the immediate family find her very difficult to cope with because of them. Her preschool teachers describe her as a daydreamer who is perfectly happy as long as she is doing what she chooses. Which is art, all day, every day. And she's very talented at it, but obviously at school she won't get to just draw all day.

The paediatrician said to make sure she is seated near the teacher, that all her belongings are very clearly named, and that she needs to have a decent grasp of letters and numbers before she starts. All quite logical, except that teaching her letters and numbers is easier said than done, but I figure anything is better than nothing!

I don't want to mention the potential of ADHD to the teacher unless we hit any problems, is that a bad idea? I had thought to be open about it but when I have mentioned it to others they have been astonishingly ignorant, eg from a teacher "girls don't get ADHD!", and now I'm afraid it would create a stigma that would make things harder for her.

Are there any tips anyone can share from their own experiences? Is there anything that will make things easier for her? I have no idea what to expect and I'm scared for her.

Thanks so much!

sarahsweets
06-25-15, 06:11 AM
Im sorry but this doctor is full of sh*t. There is way more to adhd then school performance. It impairs daily functioning. Why make her wait 6 months until the doctor gets around to being a doctor and taking you seriously? Thats 6 months of possible suffering. Plus, medication can make a drastic difference if thats the route you choose to go. Why prolong treatment when it can make her life better? There is a section called childrens diagnosis and a sticky I wrote about medicating my son. It could be a good read for you and offer perspective. I recommend you either dump this doc or get a second opinion.

Tmoney
06-25-15, 08:03 AM
In my opinion and experience sharing as much information with the school as possible should be in the best interest of your daughter. If your at a school where sharing this information may make it harder for her, then your at the wrong school.

If the teacher is aware she can begin to plan and do things to help your daughter be successful. But if no one knows and they don't understand it can cause them to assume something else or just label her as a problem.

Just my opinion but I would share everything possible. As a teacher the more you know about each student the better.

All schools have the responsibility to accommodate each individual student and to provide the best learning environment possible. That's all your asking for!

I wish good things for you!

Lunamoth
06-25-15, 07:16 PM
Thanks for taking the time to reply Sarah, I've read quite a few of your posts and have been really impressed at how well you've succeeded with your own kids, so I really appreciate your input.

Unfortunately where I'm from the mental health system is a bit lacking; it's improving but it still has a really long way to go. The paediatrician I saw is very highly regarded and although I felt like throttling him at some points ("If you manage her symptoms well enough, she may never need a diagnosis!" *big cheery grin*), I don't feel that seeing another professional would be of benefit. With our system I'm pretty stuck until after she starts school. He said the only kids who get diagnosed here at preschool age are the hyperactive type. To diagnose her, he needs a report from her teacher and a psychologist. Obviously if things go horribly at school I wouldn't wait the 6 months, that was a guideline. If medication is something that I feel she would benefit from at that stage I would have no qualms whatsoever about doing so, although I think it would be a battle to get it prescribed.

I find it extremely frustrating that there seems to be little understanding of how ADHD affects everyday life. There seems to be such an emphasis on academic achievement and financial success, as if those are somehow the only requirements for a happy and fulfilling life. What worth are they when your personal life and your inner self are falling apart? It drives me barmy. I want my daughter to have the best life that she can.

Tmoney, thank you for your advice. Do you think it's still worthwhile discussing it with the teacher even if she doesn't have a diagnosis? I'm fairly certain she has it but sometimes I doubt myself. My family think I'm cruel giving her a label and others I've spoken to can't see what I see at all. I know I should trust myself but it can be hard when most of the people around you brush it off. And, I could be wrong.

I'm fairly sure that when I bring it up with the teacher she'll think I'm ridiculous, but then she may appreciate it when my daughter suddenly fights her head on when she least expects it. We had a lot of trouble when my older son started school - he is highly sensitive and anxious, and I know his sensitivity is on the extreme end - but I was amazed that things only really improved when I stayed in constant contact with the teacher. I naively thought that teachers would have seen all types of children and know how to accommodate them, so I should know better this time.

Tmoney
06-26-15, 07:21 AM
Thanks for taking the time to reply Sarah, I've read quite a few of your posts and have been really impressed at how well you've succeeded with your own kids, so I really appreciate your input.

Unfortunately where I'm from the mental health system is a bit lacking; it's improving but it still has a really long way to go. The paediatrician I saw is very highly regarded and although I felt like throttling him at some points ("If you manage her symptoms well enough, she may never need a diagnosis!" *big cheery grin*), I don't feel that seeing another professional would be of benefit. With our system I'm pretty stuck until after she starts school. He said the only kids who get diagnosed here at preschool age are the hyperactive type. To diagnose her, he needs a report from her teacher and a psychologist. Obviously if things go horribly at school I wouldn't wait the 6 months, that was a guideline. If medication is something that I feel she would benefit from at that stage I would have no qualms whatsoever about doing so, although I think it would be a battle to get it prescribed.

I find it extremely frustrating that there seems to be little understanding of how ADHD affects everyday life. There seems to be such an emphasis on academic achievement and financial success, as if those are somehow the only requirements for a happy and fulfilling life. What worth are they when your personal life and your inner self are falling apart? It drives me barmy. I want my daughter to have the best life that she can.

Tmoney, thank you for your advice. Do you think it's still worthwhile discussing it with the teacher even if she doesn't have a diagnosis? I'm fairly certain she has it but sometimes I doubt myself. My family think I'm cruel giving her a label and others I've spoken to can't see what I see at all. I know I should trust myself but it can be hard when most of the people around you brush it off. And, I could be wrong.

I'm fairly sure that when I bring it up with the teacher she'll think I'm ridiculous, but then she may appreciate it when my daughter suddenly fights her head on when she least expects it. We had a lot of trouble when my older son started school - he is highly sensitive and anxious, and I know his sensitivity is on the extreme end - but I was amazed that things only really improved when I stayed in constant contact with the teacher. I naively thought that teachers would have seen all types of children and know how to accommodate them, so I should know better this time.

Whether your daughter is diagnosed or not you know that there are some behavior concerns that may come up as she starts her new journey and as a concerned parent you want to make sure the teacher is aware and prepared. especially if you have some behavior modification successes you can share with her if problems due pop up.

My Son TJ needed tough structure and a no nonsense teacher in order to be successful. My son John was the opposite. He had no fear of authority or consequence so punishing him or threatening him with punishment only made him act out more. I made sure the teachers knew as much as possible to help them be more successful.

CanadianDad
06-26-15, 10:06 AM
Hi Lunamoth, you're going to find a lot of support here, and you're gonna need it, just like I did, if for nothing else than a safe place to vent.

We're a year ahead of you with our son. He's finishing grade1 today and oh what a year it has been.

We knew going into grade1 that there was something different with him, and had him already going to a speech pathologist. By the end of his first week in school, the teacher was asking if there was anything she needed to know about, at which point we were 100% open with her. We were aware, we were not sure what the issue was, and we were getting professional help to determine what it was. We asked her to help any way she could with feedback to us and to give him any extra help in class she could. We ended up being really lucky, she's a great teacher and has helped every step of the way. I get the feeling most early grade teachers really do care and want to do what is best. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get the same.

As for the doctor stuff, when we were finally sure that it was not him just being a shy kid that did not pay attention, we decided to get a full assessment done by a child psychologist. It was not cheap, in the $4k range and took a long time, but luckily we have coverage from work and it was not out of pocket. When the assessment was done we had a meeting with the school and the psychologist where she went through all his strengths (logical thinking is very good, reading, math and such) and weaknesses (thinking outside the box, high functioning stuff). Bottom line, official ADHD Combined diagnosis. On advise of the psychologist he started medication and we're currently fine tuning type and dosage. When/if you get to this point it is imparative that you get good feedback from the teacher. The highest stress part for the kids is during school and you need to know if it is working.

If you can, and I know this is not possible for everyone due to location/cost etc. I would highly recommend a full psychoeducational assessment. It is designed to give schools/teachers/you the how-to guide on how your particular kid can succeed. The VP of our school said if we hadn't done it privately it might have been years before the school had it done. Our sons B average would not have put him on the track for an early assessment through the school.

Stay strong, I found that the unknown was the hardest part for me. Once you know what is going on and come up with a plan, with professionals you trust, it gets a lot better. And these forums are a lifeline for support. Screw those people who offhandedly give you advise not really knowing what your circumstances are. I've had it out with family and friends who will just throw out "ADHD is a made up thing" or "I'd never medicate my kids". When it comes to what is best for my kid I'll take the advise of a PhD in Child Psychology that I trust who has seen hundreds of families go throught this over some Google searching judgemental twit any day.

someothertime
06-26-15, 11:37 AM
Personally i wouldn't tell the teacher unless there is an obvious disconnect arising... Even then it would be after repeated engagement and liaison to facilitate appropriate mechanisms and boundaries. One of these is task treadinness. I saw school as a socially intimidating and overwhelming plethora of competing frameworks which i "had to fit into"..... had i seperately been fostered the skills to resiliently and unpressuringly attempt and iterate tasks.... had i seperately had avenues to explore socially..... well..... it's not a retrospective whine ;)..... just a way of seeing this that is indirect and cyclical.

As you are doing, stay connected, as a balanced and practically directed presence to facilitation via the best and most healthy avenues for you daughter.

Peace, and thankyou :)

Lunamoth
06-27-15, 05:00 AM
Tmoney you're so right, I'm being silly focusing on the whole diagnosis aspect rather than thinking of the big picture. I will definitely take the teacher aside before she starts and give her a heads up. I think that, if I don't, I'm setting my daughter up for a harder time than necessary. Even if I don't mention ADHD, I can at least discuss some aspects of her behaviour that might be challenging.

CanadianDad, I find your post incredibly useful, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. It's extremely reassuring to hear from someone else who has been through it all so recently, and you're right, it's the fear of the unknown which I'm finding so difficult. I'm just terribly scared for her. I had never heard of a psychoeducational assessment, but what a fabulous thing (in theory, hopefully in practice too!). I have found a few places that do it here, and will definitely look into that further down the line after we see how she goes.

You must be so relieved to have made it through your first year! It's very reassuring to hear it got better for you, fingers crossed we can have a similar experience.

I agree the teacher has a huge impact on how things go, and I'm pretty sure her first teacher will be the same one my son had when he started. It went horribly for him which is partially why I'm afraid, but maybe my daughter will respond better to someone more old school than he did. Eek.

I agree re family and friends, some people can be so clueless and unkind. I think I just need to grow a thicker skin! But then I guess we're also in a position where we can help educate people at the same time - like the teacher who said girls don't get ADHD came up to me recently and said after we spoke she'd done some research and was shocked at how ignorant she had been. It makes me feel better anyway!

Someothertime, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Hopefully I can do the best by my daughter, that's certainly the intention. I consider the social side of school to be equally important as the academic side, so I will definitely be working with her and the school to make sure she's ideally thriving in both. I think it'll be a case of just finding out what works and changing it as and when we need to. I want her to come out the other side with her self esteem safely intact! To be honest that's probably my biggest fear.

Thanks so much for the posts, I feel a lot more positive than I did a few days ago.

Lunacie
06-27-15, 12:02 PM
I've seen some great examples of letters to teachers telling what to watch for
in kids at the start of the school year. I'm not sure, they may have been on
wright'slaw website.

Teachers have a lot of information at the beginning of the school year, simply
remembering each kid's name is a chore. If they have the letter to refer back
to when they notice something amiss, that's a good thing.

Lunamoth
06-27-15, 09:47 PM
Thanks Lunacie, I'll start hunting down some example letters to give me some inspiration!

sarahsweets
06-28-15, 04:11 AM
I wanted to clarify that having the school involved isnt what I necessarily meant but having a doctor wait on school performance is the issue.

Lunamoth
06-28-15, 04:49 AM
I wanted to clarify that having the school involved isnt what I necessarily meant but having a doctor wait on school performance is the issue.

I got what you meant. I was pretty disappointed in the appointment to be honest. He went on about how beautiful she is and I lost any respect for him when he said she might not need a diagnosis if we could manage her symptoms well. Like it was something shameful to be avoided. Ick.

ToneTone
06-29-15, 10:12 PM
I would definitely approach the teacher. Here's the thing: a teacher can report symptoms and issues that you don't see ... good and bad ... A teacher can notice when your child functions well ...

Also, by approaching the teacher, you signal to her that it's OK to talk to you about your child and that you won't bit her ear off, which is what some teachers fear ...

Good luck.

Tone

Lunamoth
06-29-15, 10:17 PM
All good points, thanks Tone.

Lunamoth
09-16-15, 05:55 AM
My little girl started school a couple of weeks ago, and so far it has gone so much better than I dared hope. Before she began I gave the teacher a 2 page letter (better to be thorough right??) for which she seemed to be quite grateful. She took on board everything I wrote and has made a conscious effort to put my suggestions into practice. As a result my daughter is LOVING school, and we haven't had any real problems. Obviously it's only been a short while, but I feel confident that with her teacher on board we'll be able to manage any upcoming disasters.

Thanks to all of you for giving me the push I needed to approach the teacher before my daughter ever stepped into the classroom for the first time. It was definitely the right way to go about it.

zette93
09-16-15, 08:41 AM
In your original post you mentioned in passing that it had been difficult to teach your daughter her letters and sounds. Keep an eye out for dyslexia -- there's about a 40-50% co-occurance of dyslexia with ADHD.

Here are warning signs of dyslexia seen in Pre-K and Kindergarten:
Family history of struggling readers
Late to speak (first words > 1 year)
Mispronounces long words: aminal for animal
Trouble getting words out, “The um, thing that, um...”
Confuses left and right
Trouble learning to rhyme
Trouble identifying first or last sounds in words
Trouble blending sounds into words
Trouble learning letter names

Here are reading mistakes you might see in first grade:
· Inaccurate reading of words in lists
· Can't sound out an unknown word.
· Skips or adds small words: an, a, from, the, to, were, are, of
· Adds/skips letters: could–cold
· Mixes sequence of letters: who–how, lots–lost, saw–was
· Mixes similar words: house-horse
· Confuses b–d past 1st grade
· Confuses b–p, n–u, or m–w
· Substitutes words based on context: trip-journey, fast-speed
· Skips suffixes: need-needed, talks-talking, late-lately.

Lunamoth
09-16-15, 05:23 PM
Thanks for that detailed list Zette, I am definitely watching closely for any learning difficulties. I think my daughter's problem seems to be more that things don't "stick" but she has made a lot of progress since starting school which is very encouraging. I guess time will tell!

Lunacie
09-16-15, 05:47 PM
Thanks for that detailed list Zette, I am definitely watching closely for any learning difficulties. I think my daughter's problem seems to be more that things don't "stick" but she has made a lot of progress since starting school which is very encouraging. I guess time will tell!

Things may be "sticking" better than you realize. Dr. Barkley says people with
ADHD know what to do but have trouble doing what they know.

They may get 100% on a spelling test one day, only to miss all those words
at the end of the week. They know them, they can't pull them out when they
want or need to do so.

Lunamoth
09-16-15, 05:55 PM
Thanks for that post Lunacie, that does make sense. I find also that if she feels under pressure or tired then her performance is affected, for obvious reasons. And to be honest her teacher is scary as heck, and my girl's level of coping with it all has me in awe. I am extremely proud of her.

sarahsweets
09-17-15, 04:07 AM
Adhd is not a knowing disorder, its a doing disorder. You know what to do, but have trouble doing what you know.