New...starting assessment process
This will be long, so I apologise in advance.
My daughter is 11, turning 12 in November. I recently met with her music teacher to discuss her transition to grade 7 in February to a new high school and to get some input about her skill and knowledge gained to date (the new school was one she chose and it has a music focus). We chatted for almost an hour. The music teacher mentioned that my daughter had been showing pretty good promise until about a year ago, and since then she's just plateaued. During lessons, her attention wanders off, she doesn't hold eye contact for long. She gets bored, and resists learning the formal fundamentals. The teacher is experienced and has taught a wide range of students, and can accommodate a wide variety of learning styles, and she noticed my daughter is willing to experiment on her own and do her own thing, but not actually focus and learn on what is being taught.
Her regular class teacher and I have not discussed adhd to date, but at the last parent teacher conference, we had talked about my daughter being distracted and forgetting to finish assignments or turn them in. She got 5/10 on effort and organisation (ie. out of 10 weeks, she was fully prepared for half of them). She's quite sensitive in class (has always been an anxious, introverted kid and socially awkward) and it affects her ability to make and keep friends ("why does everyone else get invited to birthday parties except me?"), to take any kind of criticism in a learning setting (she'd often burst into tears last year). We constantly hear that she is able to do more, to achieve more, but doesn't work to her ability. She was an A student in grade 3, above average by grade 4, but then last year, the wheels seemed to come off with her grades and she went to just passing. Standardised country wide achievement testing that she used to do very well in, she failed last year. We had just done a cross country move by that time, so I put it down to the move. I brought my concerns to the teachers at the time and was told it was due to her settling in and the new school and not to worry about it.
What I thought were just her quirks and her personality traits seem to be getting more problematic now the past 18 months as well. She has always been stubborn, determined, creative. Her teachers joke that she is the spark, the personality that shines the brightest in class. She plays music by ear effortlessly. Her artwork is very good. She's apparently a year to 18 months ahead of her peers in tech skiils. She taught herself to read at age 3 by memorising the words. Her preschool teachers at the time had never seen anything like it. In grade one, she was reading at a grade 5-6 level just because of her memorisation and decoding skills, but it took until grade 3 for her comprehension to catch up.
But these days, the impulse stuff is driving us around the bend. She'll often want to start a detailed craft project right at bedtime and we'll argue about it. She is unrelenting with the nagging and demanding. Once she gets something fixed in her head, she just latches onto it and will keep pursuing the topic until it results in a fight and subsequent meltdown for her. One recent trip to the shops, she wanted a particular toy and although she had money in her savings for it, I told her that was savings money (she has trouble with the concept of saving), and it led to a full out meltdown in the shops, the kind you see from toddlers, not kids nearly 12. Afterwards, she was remorseful and I asked her (like all the previous times, before I started even thinking adhd), why oh why she couldn't see what was going on in the midst of it and change her behaviour and she said she just couldn't. She's always sorry and remorseful after the fact, but in the midst of these episodes, she struggles with control.
Her daily life in the past year is a trail of disorganisation...items dropped on the floor at home and never picked up, the school ipad she never remembers to charge it for the morning, forgotten lunch money, forgotten homework book. The impulse control stuff and outbursts are affecting our daily lives more. When she wants to do something, it's "now, now, now" and we struggle against this. The relationship with her younger brother has been affected and he is bearing the brunt of the bad days: outings cancelled etc. because of her behaviour. The amount of times he's tried to talk to her mid-meltdown ("just calm down," "listen to mom,") and he's 8 years old. His maturity is far above hers and he takes everything with a quiet stoicism.
I'll ask her to do something, follow directions, and it's like she only hears part of it. I often get back, "I didn't hear you." We'll tell her to go get something, do something, and she forgets part of it if it was a multistep process. We did hearing tests and vision tests and they were normal.
I talked to a couple of friends since the chat with the teacher. One has a daughter who had been diagnosed a few years ago, and with treatment, she's now in the gifted class at school. Another friend thinks my daughter is just a regular tween and that I'm overreacting and that adhd is a made up diagnosis to medicate kids. I guess I just wanted to share some of my reflections here to see if this is my imagination or worth getting checked out. I was going to call the doctor today and start the process for getting an assessment.
If anyone is in the Melbourne area and has any recommendations for a practitioner to see, please PM me. I'd also like to hear if our experiences sound like anyone else's daughter. I understand that adhd often presents differently in girls than in boys. I don't know yet if she has adhd or some other learning issue. I know though something is amiss and this can't be just ignored. Thanks for listening.
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