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My daughter just won't go to school


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evelyn_mch October 13, 2009


The title says it all. She plays sick, with imaginary illnesses, aches and pains, and becomes hostile and threatening if we refuse to let her stay home. To make it more fun, she refuses to bathe or wash her hair, and fights us all the way on every little thing. It's only half-way through October, and she's already out of absences for the year.


She's ADHD, although the school is refusing to recognize it, despite a neurologist assessment we paid for. I believe that she has sensory issues - little things like a minor scratch are agony  to her, a twisted seam on a shirt unbearable . She gets bullied all the time, which the school is ignoring, too,


I'm at my wits end. Any advice would be appreciated.


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healthy11 October 13, 2009


Hi. My teen has ADHD, but the behaviors you're describing are NOT typical ADHD behaviors. While I concur that your daughter may have sensory issues, too, based on what you describe, it really sounds to me like she's dealing with something more. How were her grades, academically, in the past? When was the ADHD diagnosis made, and how are you treating it? What recommendations did the neurologist have? Does she take any medications? Is she being seen by a professional therapist? I'm wondering if you've considered homeschooling/online or cyberschooling as an option, if she's unable to cope with the social situation at the present time.
I invite you to join Greatschools Learning and Attention Difficulties Group at http://community.greatschools.net/groups/11554 for additional information and support.

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sharie001 October 13, 2009


If she is being bullied, and the school is not responding, then you could send certified letter addressed to the school principal and cc the district superintendent regarding this, requesting a written response to your complaint within 5 calendar days of reciept of the letter. Or you could camp out in the administrative office (as I did) until you get satisfaction/resolution.

Regardless of your private eval the distict needs to do an eval before they will help regarding disabilities here are some links that should help:

How to request the district to evaluate (not screen) your child...
community.greatschools.net/advice/213/How-to-request-the-district-to-evaluate--not-screen--your-child----


Education Laws Regs, Violations, Info & Help
http://community.greatschools.net/groups/77570

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TeacherParent October 14, 2009


The situation as you describe it is serious. What does your family doctor or her pediatrician say? They should be consulted. I'm gathering you're opposed to her taking medication for her ADHD and that is certainly a parent's choice though with the extreme sensory issues you describe some would suggest that medication would be helpful to her.

Even though opposed to medication, a good pediatrician should still have some good ideas for you not the least of which would be some counseling for her. Her behavior is maladaptive - when she gets to the point of not bathing, she is endangering her health. Many students her age are very concerned with their appearance - that she's not concerned with hers is not in keeping with her age.

Your post doesn't say how long this has been going on? When did it start? Last year or just this year? Is she in a new school? Did anything happen this year at school to make her fear of school worse?

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cuprunnethover October 14, 2009


Hi, When I first discovered that I had ADHD I felt so Angry. Years of trying to compete with everybody else and feeling like a failure, always talking myself into trying harder and harder, then finally finding out the why but getting an answer that at first felt like now I know why but there is not much I can do to change it. Especially if you are not on meds which we could not afford at the time, you just feel doomed and want to just get out of that whole competitive nightmare of school/work. Talk to her about what her condition really is and is not and treatment options. Feingold diet might be helpful for her, it helps some people and will give her something to focus on trying. Sometimes just observing your own symptoms while you try a therapy seems to help you do better with them. Encourage a journal if she likes diaries etc.
Fight the school. They really don't have the right to deny you services but honestly we found that what was offered was not really all that helpful and we home school because of it with my daughter who also has this issue.
Anger begets adrenaline which feels GREAT to ADHD folks and she may in effect be self-treating by bringing on your irritation but then still feel bad about how everybody is always mad at her. An ugly little do loop of our brain programming. If she has any hobby at which she excels, strongly encourage that as a way of getting a positive adrenaline surge. Being out in a green environment is very soothing to ADHD, promote opportunities for walks and hikes. In the end though I cannot tell you enough what a difference medicine can make. This is not different from somebody taking insulin for diabetes, thyroid supplement etc. make sure she and you understands that she is not "crazy", she has a type of chemical imbalance brought on by a biological malfunction. Drug therapy won't completely solve the problem because medical science is imperfect but the drugs can help many people. http://www.adhd.org.nz/neuro1.html
The more you learn about this, the better. Good luck. People with ADHD do have an advantage in being array thinkers in many creative forms of science and the arts. We see solutions that just aren't obvious to others. Let her know that. Sometimes just knowing it is not ALL bad news, makes a big difference.
Best wishes,

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sharie001 October 14, 2009


I would like to add to cuprunnethover's post, if I may....

It is worthwhile to evaluate for other possible dissabilities which may affect learning (in addition to her current diagnosis of ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD memic many other disabilities and memic "gifted" too.
Then there is twice or dual exceptional (2e), which is gifted with disabilities that affect learning.

Also from my research I learned that many (not all, but a significant number) who have ADHD also have another disability (likely another neurological one). Sometimes these other disabilties are hidden/masked by their intelligence and may go undiagnosed until a child is older.

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evelyn_mch October 15, 2009


My daughter is not currently on medication because the side effects of the medication outweighed the benefits in her case. She has difficulty sleeping and the medication, no matter how carefully we adjusted it or changed her routine, made her problems with sleep 100X greater. Next up for her is a sleep study, which her pediatrician does not really support but I am insisting on. He has been excellent, having an now-grown son with learning problems himself, but he is sort of at the same point that we are at - suggesting we try both a psychotheraphist for her, and adjustments in her routine to try to get her in a better place to respond. The school is useless. Yesterday, she was bullied at lunch, told by other children that she could no longer eat at their table - "banned" was the word they used - and her "caseworker" not only lied and told her she would call us (she didn't) but that she would talk to the other students (she didn't). I am concerned that homeschooling her would deprive her of things she needs for her social skills, but I am at the point where I am looking for a lawyer to get the school to enforce their own policies on bullying and the IEP that they themselves came up with after we had her assessed both ourselves and by the district. (The district's assessment was that there was nothing wrong with her, including the ADHD, despite it being apparent to every teacher she's ever had, her own doctor, and two different neurologists we've taken her to!)

We try to give her a low-refined sugar, low junk food diet - her father is a diabetic - and restrict her insatiable appetite for computer use and games to get her outdoors and physically active, but she fights us on ever turn. When I say I am at my wit's end, I really mean it.

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cuprunnethover October 15, 2009


Would neurofeedback be an option for you? We haven't tried it yet, we just started "the patch" yesterday and if that doesn't work we are considering that next.

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cuprunnethover October 15, 2009


Also if she is having big, big problems with sleep, that could explain some of the irritability and labile behavior. Sleep deprivation in healthy college age kids led to symptoms of depression within just a few days in recent studies. Would the doctor be willing to prescribe a sleep aid? or maybe straterra as a nighttime med, we found that to be sleep-inducing, controlled impulsivity nicely but did nothing for actual attention deficit. I hate to sound like I am screaming meds at you but if she is not sleeping and miserable all day, just even a short-term respite to get her some sleep might help you all. If she wants to sleep and can't this might help. If she doesn't think she needs sleep and is always hi energy I would go back for a second psych eval to look for different or additional issues at play. Worried about you too as it sounds like u r so stressed by this. Do what u can for yourself to get some relaxation while she IS at school. Take care.

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TeacherParent October 15, 2009


ADHD people can have trouble sleeping certainly and the medication doesn't work well for every person and for some it makes things worse.
It sounds as if school is doing the same - small wonder she doesn't want to go. If the school would acknowledge her ADHD, what would be different? What services or special placements would they have to offer her? What are the ADHD students at the school receiving in services?
And what is her IEP for if not for learning differences? But that doesn't matter so much as that she has an IEP - what do you want the school to provide for her? I find with IEPs that schools will write them and sometimes even agree to what's asked of them but without being able to provide it.
Is there an alternative to this school? Some districts have alternative schools or sometimes they can even be coerced or forced to pay the tuition to a private school if there is one that you like better for your daughter than her current school.
Good luck with this - I hope you'll keep us posted.

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healthy11 October 16, 2009


Unfortunately, having an IEP won't change your daughter's apparent social difficulties. You can't force other kids to like her, even if they stop outwardly bullying her.
Homeschooling or cyberschooling might not be a bad thing to consider, especially if you can find a way to provide her with some social opportunities through other ways. Is your daughter an only child? Does she get along better with younger kids? Not that you want to promote more gaming, but maybe she could help teach others about computers or something (ie, scouts going for a merit badge, or even maybe at a senior citizens center.)
P.S. Your daughter's sleep difficulties even when not trying medication do sound extreme, so I think a sleep study is a good idea. Melatonin is non-prescription supplement that some parents have found effective. The best site I know of for ADHD treatments, both conventional and alternative, is www.millermom.proboards107.com



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