ADHD in all 3 kids?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2007
ADHD in all 3 kids?
Fri, 11-13-2009 - 12:24pm

My DH is very ADHD. From what I understand it is hereditary. He has 3 kids with two biomoms. One has traumatic brain injury and pretty much would be undiagnosable for ADHD due the variety of learning disabilities she has. She is actually doing ok since she has a complete IEP for just about everything.

The 14yo boy has been diagnosed with borderline ADHD. He was having violent outbursts in school several years ago. DH reduced his sugar intake and the violence passed. When that happened the diet thing went out the window. DSS is now failing a lot in school. He is bright but has no desire to apply himself and generally forgets to or doesn't want to do homework. He seems to have mild dyslexia which has not been diagnosed. He has an IEP for spelling, writing and penmanship. I think the struggles in school have caused him to be depressed. He doesn't care about anything anymore and his big goal in life seems to be to get on welfare when he's 18 so he can do nothing all day.

We have requested an appointment with his teachers and DH has decided that another eval is in order. He has finally decided that if a dr. says drugs would help he would be willing to consider it.

13yo girl was a drug baby. Her mother was an IV drug user while pregnant. she is reasonably compliant at home and at school. Her social skills are beginning to improve. Her personal hygiene is improving. She is pretty bright but seems to lose track of things. Not just things like chores and homework but even happy events slip her mind pretty regularly.

She needs to be repeatedly told what to do and how to do it. At school she wants to get good grades but often does poorly because she forgets assignments or doesn't remember or understand the instructions. I have seen her work for hours on a project to get it just right. The problem is, she is totally doing the wrong thing so she gets a poor grade because she didn't follow instructions.

She says that she has a lot of problems understanding what is being said in class and often says people use big words she doesn't understand. I figure a teacher who has been teaching a grade for years probably is speaking at that grade level. In fact, many of these teachers my younger daughter had and there was never a problem. Simple instruction often elude her.

My DH says that because she isn't hyper she can't be ADHD. In fact, her energy level is well below normal. I have never seen a child who can remain in one place zoned on the tv for 3 days straight. Even getting up to eat or going to the bathroom is a huge effort.

I think she is ADHD with impulse control problems along with inattentiveness. She's just not hyper. She makes unusually poor decisions that I think are not within the range of normal. Mostly because she doesn't think, very if it feels good do it type of thing.

I also believe my younger daughter, 17yo, is ADHD but very mild. Since I raised her from birth I always found ways to constructively channel her energy. Now she does sports and works out a lot. She has finally learned to sit still, although she fidgets a lot, so she doesn't get in trouble in class. She can rarely stay on one subject long but has found a system that works for her. She is also dyslexic and for the most part has found ways to deal with it so she has been able to make honor roll most of the time but does have struggles with certain things.

I have never had her tested. She has been able to reach young adulthood with little impact on her academics and behavior so I'm not too worried about it. There is no history of either ADHD or dyslexia in our families so I'm not sure where this came from but both seem pretty mild. She seems to be able to find her own solutions and continues to do so as new things are thrown her way. It just sometimes takes her a little more work to find her way of doing things but she does find it.

I think she is more hyper than anything else. She makes well thought out decisions and doesn't seem to have problems with her ability to sort out what she needs to pay attention to. Her mind and mouth run a million miles an hour and sometimes she's a bit scattered but not to such an extent that things don't get done.

So do all 3 of them sound like they may have ADHD? Should all 3 be tested? The two who are having problems? TIA

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2007
Fri, 11-13-2009 - 12:41pm

Hi, and welcome!

If you suspect ADHD then I would

A child may HAVE ADHD, but it is not what they ARE. Never tell a child they ARE ADHD.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2007
Wed, 11-18-2009 - 12:00pm


Thank you for your response. It puts my mind at ease that I wasn't negligent with the 17yo. We didn't realize she was dyslexic until HS since she found her own ways to work around it and actually learned to read very early.

I would like to have the 13yo tested but her Dad doesn't think she has a problem. I see her struggling very hard to obtain good grades. More so than she should. Assignments that should take 20 minutes can take her 4 hours. Eventually, I think it will get discouraging to her that she has to work so much harder than her peers.

The 14yo, I am pushing DH to have a complete physical on him and then a eval. We had a phone meeting with two of his teachers yesterday and they are at a loss as to how to deal with him. DH has refused to have him tested in the past because he thought they would put him on drugs. Now he is willing to try drugs, if needed, and is more willing to take the boy for testing.

I'm sure I'll have more questions as we go through the eval and get the results. Thank you so much for your support.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 11-18-2009 - 11:39pm

Here is a condensation of the problems a prenatally drug exposed child will exhibit. REMEMBER: a mother who is KNOWN to be using one drug during pregnancy is likely using others also, and has also likely exposed the fetus to LEGAL substances that also cause damage, like alcohol, cigarettes, cough syrup, OTC decongestants, pain killers, etc.

"Behavioral characteristics commonly seen in prenatally drug exposed children include heightened response to internal and external stimuli, irritability, agitation, tremors, hyperactivity, speech and language delays, poor task organization and processing difficulties, problems related to attachment and separation, poor social and play skills, and motor development delays.

Naomi Kaufman (1990) identifies other difficulties that may plague drug-affected children. "At the least," she states, "they include a much higher likelihood of lower intelligence; short attention spans; hyperactivity; inability to adjust to new surroundings and trouble following directions-all traits that can lead to failure in school."

"These children are often misdiagnosed as having a genetically based Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but what they really suffer from are structural brain injuries thanks to their mother's past behaviors.
They will also respond to treatment more poorly than will a child with ADHD. Parents must have very realistic expectations for treatment with either medications, diet, attend, or therapy when the problem is a structural head injury rather than ADHD.
Any of these treatments can help to optimize brain performance, which is always helpful, but won't give the "day and night improvements" that an ADHD child might receive."

"Remember that one of the long term effects of prenatal drug exposure is learning disabilities, in particular, challenges in the areas of attention and abstract thinking. Many drug exposed children function acceptably in the early grades, but as the work becomes more abstract (around the 4th grade), they may begin to fall behind their peers academically. If not addressed via appropriate educational interventions, this may lead to problems in self esteem, social skills, and behaviors. Parents who can keep abreast of their child’s learning needs are often able to avoid or minimize the emotional and behavioral challenges that may accompany drug exposed children into their later childhood and adolescent years. Continue to seek educational evaluations and interventions. Learn the laws regarding eligibility and know your rights as a parent.

These children may not reach the developmental milestones at the same time as their peers. They will likely need the structure and parental supervision you would provide for a much younger child. Don’t overburden them with the kinds of responsibilities they are not yet mature enough to handle. Decisions about dating, curfews, learning to drive, and the like must be made with the child’s developmental level (and learning challenges) in mind. Do not expect your child to emancipate from home when other kids do so. They may need to live at home well into their 20’s and they will need a slow transition to independent living. For those who are able to undertake college work, living at home and attending the local community college is a good choice.

These are important years for parents to initiate or increase their efforts at substance abuse prevention. In a matter-of-fact and non- judgmental manner, inform them that scientists believe drug exposed children may be “genetically more at risk” for addictions. Teenagers need to know this information about themselves. You might solicit the help of a trusted family doctor or a mental health provider to assist in this educational effort. Even if your teen seems aloof or the information does not sink in at first, they need to keep hearing it."

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2007
Thu, 11-19-2009 - 12:01am of the long term effects of prenatal drug exposure is learning disabilities, in particular, challenges in the areas of attention and abstract thinking. Many drug exposed children function acceptably in the early grades, but as the work becomes more abstract (around the 4th grade), they may begin to fall behind their peers academically.

This is her. She was a great performer from head start to about 3rd grade. 4th was ok. 5th and 6th she struggled. Her social skills for the most part are unacceptable to other kids and she has few friends. This year she has more friends, they are the kinds who go to parties and talk about their sexual escapades.

The problem with this one is that DH refuses to recognize there are problems. He has denied for years that his ex did drugs while she was pregnant with either of the younger kids. He actually spilled the beans when he was angry at someone and told me the reason he can never forgive that woman is because she told his ex-wife it was safe to shoot up while she was pregnant and got her hooked on something, not sure if it was heroin or what while she was pregnant.

I don't know if she was using while she was pregnant with the boy. DH says no but I'm not so sure he really knows since he was at work.

DH is severely ADHD or at least seems to be, he was never diagnosed. It is possible it is brain damage from a serious car accident when he was 5. Ironically, his oldest daughter also was in an accident at 5 when she was with her mother and has traumatic brain injury.

I wish I could get the 13yo tested. I feel there is the potential for some pretty serious problems in the near future. At the very least I think each grade will get harder and harder for her to complete.

Thank you for your input. I'll read the links you posted.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 11-19-2009 - 12:49am
Hugs AND an idea. Since these are not your kids, it's going to be harder to get them the help you must know they need. Try to find a support group for ADOPTIVE PARENTS who have drug-exposed children, or foreign adopted children, in your area. They will be able to give you insight, support, and most importantly, will know where in your area you can get services. Another thing you should prepare yourself for, is that these kids will have a host of issues related to their lack of attention while infants. Drug addicted mothers, busy, angry fathers, and overworked orphanage workers in Russia, are ALL unable to give an infant(especially an irritable, incessantly crying infant going thru drug withdrawal) the cuddling, attention, and bonding time they need to be capable of forming positive attachments later in life. Besides Reactive Attachment Disorder, they may: be unable to feel empathy, be unable to read emotions or facial cues, violate personal space, and have oppositional or conduct disorders. You need to look up RAD, PTSD, ODD, CD, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder(PDD) too.