Please help this grandmother with ADD advice.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by rubyzshoes, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. rubyzshoes

    rubyzshoes New Member

    My sweet granddaughter has been diagnosed as ADD and they want to medicate her. I have been in the school system for 15 years and seen many kids with ADD and she is not one of them. Her home life is horrible and her mom(my daughter) is always going out and partying. She is out of control at home and school but behaves well with other family members when they take a tight reign. My daughter has mislead the school and psychologists about her home life and discipline and now it has come to this. Is is possible that she is having behavioral problems due to her chaotic life and the doctors are wrong or am I in denial? Please help!!
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Hi Ruby.

    Welcome to the site.

    You're in a tough position, for sure, regardles off anyone's outside opinion.

    I don't know you or your daughter or granddaughter, or their situation, so I can only speak from my own situation. Granted, I don't party. Heck, I rarely get an hour or two away from the kids. If I do "party", the kids usually participate - we have friends over and play card games that they are allowed in, we watch movies they can watch, etc.

    But I can tell you that there are a lot of people outside of my home that perceive both of my difficult child's to be wonderful young men who just need a tighter rein. My mom was one of them for a while, until difficult child 1 stayed with her for an extended period of time. And once he settled into her home and the new wore off, he was a difficult child for her, too. In fact, there are probably a huge number of people on this board who have heard the same thing over and over and over.

    I don't want to discount you and your observations. Having been involved in the school district I'm sure has allowed you to see a lot. But I just want to point out that a huge number of our kids "honeymoon" - or behave for people for periods of time before they let their "real self" loose. Maybe this is what you see and your granddaughter is a different child at home. Maybe your granddaughter really does just need a tighter rein, that part I can't answer.

    I hope this does not offend you...its just my own situation - I really can't judge your situation. However, being a mother of difficult child's, I would love nothing more than to have someone come into my home and say "see, if you just do this, they're fine!" and teach me how to handle my difficult child's differently if that could really make a difference in the long run. Oh yeah, right, I've done that...we did 6 months of in-home therapy.... Anyway, Perhaps you can offer to help your daughter?

    Regardless, it is hard to see someone you love struggle. There are many helpful folks here. Welcome.
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have had the same experience. My mother did not really see my difficult children behavior so it became about me. She has suggested I be more strict, less strict, nicer, meaner, etc. You get the idea.

    But, I do think a child can have behavioral problems when home life is difficult. I think it can bring on situational depressions and anxieties. I do not think it causes ADHD though.
  4. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    It's difficult. Diagnosis of many of the neurological disorders we see on this board is based on reported and observed behavior, not any medical testing or examinations. If one or more of the people reporting behavior is less than totally honest, clearly a wrong diagnosis can be made.

    That said, there is the possibility that your granddaughter is suffering from both bad parenting and a neurological disorder. Many of these disorders are genetic-based; if Mom is a difficult child, it's entirely possible that there is a genetic predisposition for the disorder.

    Unfortunately there seems to be a tendency on the part of doctors and psychologist to make ADD/ADHD the first diagnosis for all children who are identified as having problems. They sort of hammer all behaviors into the ADD/ADHD category. I suspect that's because a lot of kids benefit, at least in the short run, from taking stimulants and that stimulants aren't thought to be as powerful and potentially dangerous as the other psychotropics. It has been found that in the long run (3 years), behavioral treatment is just as effective as drug treatment but that requires a lot of time, effort, cooperation by the school district, and of course, money. It isn't easy for committed parents let alone those who would rather party.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yes, a chaotic home life could cause the behavior problems at school. But so could a learning disability, which might not be apparent at home or with extended family. And often kids will behave well for relatives and completely fall apart when they are finally at home where they feel "safe." I wouldn't rely solely on what the school thinks is the problem, or one psychologist.

    Not to discount what you've observed, but I had a similar situation with difficult child 2 last summer. His mood disorder was beginning to present itself, so he wasn't responding to his usual medications. His grandparents were visiting for a few weeks, and they watched him and his siblings for a few hours one day. They said he was "perfect" for them, and that they thought he didn't really have any problems, we just needed to be tougher with our discipline. A few "perfect" hours with all three kids in separate rooms did not really give them a realistic picture of difficult child's issues in the various areas of his life.

    I would encourage your daughter to seek more than one opinion for your granddaughter's behavior. If she does have ADHD, the medications will help her and it will be immediately clear if that's the case. There is no build-up required for those medications. If she doesn't have ADHD, the medications will do nothing or make her behavior worse.
  6. Jena

    Jena New Member

    hi ruby

    welcome. id have to say that I too am a single mom or was up till not too long ago I do not by any means party etc.

    when my youngest was diagnosed with bi polar disorder and anxiety disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) i was told by my family particularly my mother that maybe it was her environment that caused it, my divorce 7 years ago, etc.

    i guess what i'm saying is i do not know your situation truly or your granddaugther's behaviors or your daughters for that matter. one thing i do know is it took me 2 years of constant patience and explaining for my family to come out of denial. they too felt that her behaviors were so much better with them, that she seemed fine with them, that it must be my parenting that was causing all the problems.

    sometines for most i think when we're too close to the problem we can't see it clearly i have that alot. try to think out of the box for a while if you can.

    it's wonderful that you are so concerned that you have sought out this website that shows you truly care about your grandddaughter which in itself is wonderful.

    maybe an idea would be to ask if you could accompany your daughter on her next dr. visit? this way you can hear first hand the reasons behind the diagnosis.

    good luck
  7. Sickntired

    Sickntired New Member

    I just wanted you to know I understand how you feel. I am raising my 14 year old grandson. The hardest thing I ever had to do was admit to myself that there were really problems beyond what I could solve. I don't know your granddaughter's symptoms, or behavior, but all I can tell you is to follow your gut instinct. In my case, I fought the school tooth and nail before we ever started getting to the bottom of this. Now that I look back, I always knew there were some problems with him, but we just worked around them, which solved nothing. My mother hen wings come out to cover him when I feel like someone else is being to hard on him. There were well meaning teachers but I just couldn't see, or didn't want to see, what they were talking about. Yes, he was active and busy, but weren't all children? Yes, he could not concentrate, but, he's only 6, yes, he does have a problem with authority and is oppositional, but he's spoiled, and so on and so on. It went on until things were finally going so bad at school that I had no choice. When he entered middle school, which is a huge change for children, things were terrible. I finally gave in and had him tested, academically and psychiatric. For him, he had so much emotional damage in the very early years of his life, before we took him, that it has left deep, deep scars. Things we cannot see. But knowledge is power, and I began researching things and finally began to understand a lot more about him. Then the teen years and hormones set in and we have been on a roller coaster ride ever since. This young man can be perfectly fine in someone else's home. I get nothing but compliments about his behavior from everyone that he stays with overnight or visits. But in reality, that is not how he behaves on a day to day basis with the usual turns and twists of family life. I hate medicine and I hate medicating him, but I now know it is in his best interest. It is the best chance he has of being able to function in an acceptable manner. It doesn't cure his problems, it only smooths him out enough to be able to make better choices. And as I have said in other posts, it is hard to understand something you can't see. All we see is the result of his problems, which comes out in his behavior. His doctor told me, "if you cut off your head, how well do you think the rest of your body would work?" I still have people in my family, very close people, who believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with him, that we should just be harder on him, or love him more or yada, yada, yada. If loving him more would make him well, he would have been well a long time ago. I spent the majority of his younger years feeling sorry for him for the things that happened to him and that accomplished nothing except putting blinders on my face so that I didn't face the facts.

    This is something you must sort out for yourself. I know for myself, I protected him to the point I wouldn't see what was in front of my eyes, and that is a mistake I will regret for a long time. I also know that I can't be the only one that wants this for him, he has to finally want it, enough to work for it. An unhealthy home life can certainly lead to behavior problems. They are like sponges, they absorb everything. Some children can let those things go, and others can't. It builds and builds and comes out in their behavior. Either way, I would encourage you to keep an open mind. Best of luck and trust your instincts!!

  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi Rubyzshoes, welcome.

    You really are in a difficult place. I agree with you, an unsettled home life can cause a lot of behavioural problems at school.

    When you say "they want to medicate her" who do you mean by "they"? Her mother? Or the school?

    The school won't want the child medicated if they don't see a need. If she is behaving well at school AND focussing on schoolwork without being too easily distracted or apparently not taking information on board, then they would not lift a finger. They certainly would not have pursued testing. Although just maybe, if the mother really nagged hard. Really hard. Generally though, the problem is the other way around - even when a parent nags and the child's behaviour is obvious, schools often don't request testing when they should.

    If she is only a behaviour problem/inattentive at home, then again, the school wouldn't interfere. Also, medications are unlikely to help since they mostly work when the child is medicated for school hours. medications are given in the morning (and sometimes during the day, depending on what medications) and will be wearing off at home so home behaviour will seem unchanged.

    A difficult home life will not cause ADD. But ADD can cause a difficult home life. The tendency to ADD is also hereditary, so if her mother is an undiagnosed ADD then this could explain her current irresponsibility and flightiness. But this wouldn't necessarily be the cause of the problems in your granddaughter, but the heredity itself.
    That is, if it's ADD.

    Then there's ADHD. Sometimes the terms get used together, interchangeably, incorrectly.
    My two boys have ADHD. They are all over the shop. Bouncing off the walls, climbing on the furniture, never still, unable to stop moving.
    Their sister has ADD (inattentive type). She is quite capable of maintaining an intense focus on one task for hours at a time. Although she can be quite a party animal, she can also be very quiet and reserved. Never bouncing off the walls but instead, a real lady. Refined. Meticulous. But unmedicated, she's very "blonde". Highly intelligent, without her medications she comes across as a total ditz. Also at school, she couldn't remember anything she was taught, if she was unmedicated. The ADD in her case was stopping her memory from being laid down properly. No hyperactivity to speak of and she did brilliantly in school for the first few years, then seemed to hit a brick wall. Looking back, the brick wall was due to the increase in complexity of the work to the point where her brain needed to work harder, past the point where it could without help. For example - she could easily do "2 + 2 = 4" but when it got to 2x + 4 y = ?" she began to have trouble.

    Let's look at your concern.
    Your granddaughter's home life is less than you would prefer. This may be a bad thing, or it may be irrelevant.
    You seem to indicate she is OK at school. If she really is, then the school won't be pushing for any medications or diagnosis despite the mother's persistence.
    You feel your daughter is not as diligent a mother as she should be. I have no way of knowing - you may well be right. But if the mother is not diligent, then why would she be pushing for a label for her child which is going to mean inconvenience and expense into the forseeable future? A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is not an easy option, when the alternative is normality.

    Let's say that the diagnosis is right. (we'll look at the alternative in a minute). If it is, then the medications will make a huge difference to her, hopefully. The medications are short-acting, they will boil out of her system within hours. Such medications when taken as directed for a specific medical condition are not addictive. They are only addictive when they are abused. A doctor who suspects medications are being abused can ask for blood levels to be checked. Too low a level - someone else is getting the medications (ie they could be being trafficked). Too high a level - someone is overdosing, which can't continue for long as the supply is limited by the doctor.
    Once a child is diagnosed ADHD or ADD and medications are recommended, the first thing that happens (for us - I assume it's similar in the US) is the doctor has to apply for permission to prescribe this medication to this patient on an ongoing basis. He may write ONE prescription to see how they go on it, but after that all paperwork has to be submitted, i's dotted and t's crossed.
    Once prescribed, medications have to be bought. They cost. Why take on a long-term regular expense if there's a chance it's not needed?
    If your granddaughter DOES have ADD, chances are the medications will make a big difference for her. If they don't - then other reasons for her problems will be investigated.

    Now, let's look at your view - that your granddaughter DOES NOT have ADD. Let's say the diagnosis is wrong. She is a problem at home, but mainly due to poor parenting. SOMEONE must have asked for the testing, and if she's really not got any problems, that someone must be her mother. So her mother is looking for a medical reason for the behaviour problems of which she herself is a cause. It's a way of trying to deflect responsibility. But if the child really doesn't have ADD, then the medications are unlikely to make much difference. When this happens, the spotlight will swing back to other possible causes, especially environment. This will take a little time, but not too much.

    The medications do not cause long-term harm, not like other medications such as steroids. Even an aspirin will cause an increase in blood clotting time that lasts for the life of the blood platelets in the body at time of dosage. Stimulant medications will wash out of her within hours. That's why kids on stimulant medications who really do NEED them, have to take them every day, or they have trouble constantly adapting and readapting to being able to concentrate, or not being able to maintain focus.

    There could be a number of reasons for your granddaughter's presentation. Even if ADD has been diagnosed, it still may not be ADD, there are always other possibilities. My older son was initially diagnosed as ADHD, even though it didn't explain all his symptoms. And the bloke who diagnosed him later came back to me and tried to say that he didn't have ADHD at all, it was depression as the result of having a parent with a primarily depressive illness (by this he meant me - and I have not had a diagnosis of depression, ever). My physical disability had been re-interpreted by the pediatrician (not his field, not his patient) as a mental illness and cause of my son's problems.
    My son was later diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

    What I'm saying - medicine is an inexact science. Your daughter's heart may be in the right place, she may be frantic in her concerns for her daughter who may have issues at school you're not fully aware of (early presentations as complexity increases - can be subtle at first).
    Or your daughter may be motivated purely by personal selfishness, to maintain her party lifestyle.
    I don't know.
    But I do know this - once your granddaughter is in the system, under the care of a doctor specialising in learning or behavioural difficulties (of whatever cause) - then she is in the system and under independent observation. Sometime, somewhere, the truth will be revealed (if it hasn't already) and the girl will get the help she needs.

    My suggestion for you - don't fight the decision. You may express scepticism, but if someone has considered that your granddaughter needs help, there is no harm in her GETTING that help. If it turns out to be needless - no harm done. But if she does need help and doesn't get it - problems. And if it's the wrong sort of help she gets - that will be fixed.

    So for now - love them, that way you stay in the loop and better able to help if things do get worse in any way.

    And on the topic of doting grandparent figures always seeming to be the last to accept unpleasant truths about their loved ones - a good friend of ours from church, the resident 'grandmother' to all the kids, fought me tooth and nail over difficult child 3's diagnosis when we were considering autism. "Nothing wrong with him!" she insisted. And I recognised that this insistence came from love for him, as well as fear for his welfare. But she had to understand for herself, so I said to her, "ask him about his day at school today."
    She sat him on her lap and said to him, "difficult child 3, how was school today? What did you do?"
    He took his finger out of his mouth and looked outside. "Bird." "Water."
    She could not get a relevant response from him at all.
    But to her still, my kids are perfect. She refuses to accept difficult child 1's diagnosis but accepts his eccentricity calmly. I love her to pieces, but I know there are a lot of things I can't share with her, because it upsets her too much and so she denies it. It's the only way she can cope. She has t define her world as she is prepared to see it - nothing more, nothing less.

    I do like the suggestion of asking your daughter if you can attend the next consultation. My mother in law was a lot like our friend from church, even more in denial (if possible). So I asked her to come with us. That way, she could ask questions and hear what the doctors said directly, instead of having to work it out from my own version of events.
    If your daughter isn't receptive to this, then the best thing you can do for your granddaughter is to befriend your daughter all over again until she IS receptive. And that isn't always easy.

    Good luck.

  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I understand your feelings. My daughter is in her 40's and simply can't get a handle on parenting with-o chaos. She has three ADHD children. The lst has lived with us and had love, order, encouragement, gifted education, exposure and then excellence in sports and social life. He began stimulant medication in first grade and continued until his teens.
    The teen years hit hard due to circumstances that we hoped stability &
    love would overcome...they didn't. The 2nd lived in her chaos until he
    was in 6th grade and then joined us full time. He has emotional scars from the early years but with medication he is doing well academically
    but not socially. The 3rd is as hyper as my daughter was. She has been
    kicked out of three preschools and now two afterschool programs. My
    daughter delayed medicating her and, I believe, does not have the right
    medications now.

    As a young Mother I knew my daughter was not able to function in a consistent way. Many people thought I was wrong. Help was not very easy to find or very effective in the l960's. Like many of these Moms, I
    had criticism from my family. Now as a Grandmother involved with these children daily for twenty years...I know that my daughter's choices
    have impacted all three children. It is a complex issue and I don't envy you. The school system may end up being the answer to identifying her
    issues in the long run. Sending supportive thoughts your way. DDD
  10. Jena

    Jena New Member


    that was some great info.

    i think that as well that was a good point, that these conditions or behaviors can cause a chaotic home as is so confusing.

  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It IS confusing. That's why there generally isn't a neat, always-correct answer. And when we make a choice of options, we have to be prepared to change our minds if later evidence shows we made a wrong choice. We also have to not assign blame when this happens - it's best to save our energies for dealing with what we have to deal with TODAY. Looking ahead to try to prepare for all the "what if"s is good, but sometimes the "now" is all we have the energy for. The past - it's useless, unless it can give us clues to help us in the now, or the future. Otherwise - forget it and move on.

    This isn't easy - as a society we tend to focus on blame, as if assigning blame is going to mean that the bad thing never happened.

    While we stand in the kitchen arguing over who spilt the milk, it's seeping through the floorboards because nobody is mopping it up.

    I hope this situation can be sorted with time, compassion and a loving, watchful eye.