Families That Inspire: Meet Maddy
● By Brian O
Maddy ready for 6th grade
By: Angela Nelson
When did you first start to think that your daughter might have attention difficulty? How did you decide what to do next?
When my daughter was in 1st grade she always seemed distracted during activities, both at home and at school. Maddy did not struggle in school and was not a behavior issue or hyperactive. She has always been very imaginative and catches on to concepts extremely quickly and, therefore, her academic performance was never hindered. She, in fact, is very gifted in the area of reading and language arts and read at a very young age.
Did your family consult with a professional regarding treatment options? Why or why not?
We initially did not consult with her pediatrician. We modified things at home as concerns at school were not being brought up as readily. In 4th grade, we chose to take her to our pediatrician, and she was diagnosed with ADHD without Hyperactivity.
What role did your children's school/teachers play?
In 4th grade, Maddy’s teacher told us that while she knew all of the material, Maddy was very distracted during school and often just took out a book and began reading at these times. We also had her tested for the gifted program in her school.
What was your family's course of action?
We initially started by doing things at home to provide structure during unstructured times (i.e. getting ready for school/bed). We would post checklists around the house as visual reminders. We guided her through for the first several weeks until she was able to do them on her own. After the diagnosis, we started her on a very low dose of medication. Our concern was that she was not being pushed to her full potential academically because of her lack of focus at school. It is difficult to see a true picture of abilities if a child is so often unfocused. We wanted Maddy to be given every opportunity without attention difficulties holding her back. We also provided her with one-on-one tutoring to help get a clear picture of her potential and also to help her realize it.
Are there any resources you would recommend?
As far as resources go, I have learned a great deal from the staff at Excel Achievement Center. I have extensive experience working with students with attention difficulties, but it is an entirely different perspective when looking at it from a parenting standpoint. It is amazing how important it is to consult with other parents and professionals who have dealt with it, even if you have a lot of experience with teaching students with ADHD.
What advice do you have for other parents of children with attention difficulties?
Take a deep breath and be patient. Attention problems can be so frustrating. It can appear as if a child is non-compliant or just lazy. They struggle focusing their thoughts and cannot help it. Provide them with short, manageable tasks and then always follow-up. Have ongoing communication with the school and teachers. It is important for parents to know that the teachers and staff at school are in a partnership with them. It has to be a team approach. Be sure they know of any expectations you have of your child and them and remember to be reasonable with requests. Most importantly, it is important to go with your intuition. Maddy did not struggle in school and was not a behavior issue or hyperactive. She is also very shy, and it is difficult to know her potential. I was very persistent in helping her teachers see this in her. She is now scoring advanced in all standardized testing and is enrolled in advanced language arts, math, and science in middle school. She wants to become a general surgeon, and I am sure she will.