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ADHD in Girls

At our wits end...

We have a very beautiful, creative, animal-loving eleven year old daughter who is our second out of three children. We absolutely adore her. However, my husband and I have been noticing the past year and a half that her moods and behavior really seemed off. She was getting very mouthy, rude, bossy with her little sister and just plain mean to her family! We request for her to do things at least 10 times, only to have her ignore us again and again, even when we make her look at us in the eye and tell her directly. At the time, we chalked it up to her being pre-hormonal. She gets straight A’s, thrives and excels at school and all of her teachers love her so much they want clones of her. She never acts out at school….ever. Not once have any of her teachers, past or present, mentioned anything about her possibly having ADHD. I am assuming that she puts all of her energy and focus into school that when she comes home, she lets it all blow off…and we all suffer! She comes home completely exhausted…then the fun begins. I feel terrible that I hadn’t noticed before now how bad it has gotten. We just moved a month ago, and everything seemed to really get worse since then. Moving is hard anyway, but this kicked her behavior into overdrive. I am following a gut feeling, reading quite a bit about ADHD and realizing we may have figured out the mood swings, poor behavior, disorganization, interrupting, ignoring, etc (more than normal anyway), may be due to ADHD. So, my question is: Do we take her to see a doctor or a school counselor? I would like to NOT medicate, if at all possible. What do we do for peace within our family? Please help!

Replies

You are working with a lot of assumptions here. It could be adhd, it could be a combination of ADHD and other things, it could be something else entirely. What you need at this point are some real data.  I suggest you take her to a child psychologist who is familiar with ADHD who can assess and give some factual answers. Your decisions about what to do would grow from facts, not hunches or guesswork.

Posted by Labradorim on Aug 06, 2014 at 12:05pm

Some pediatricians also specialize in behavioral and mental health disorders andADHD, especially if they’re part of a large group practice.  You might want to start there because sometimes you cannot get in to see a child psych quickly, if at all, and some kids feel more comfortable initially talking with a “regular doctor” than a psychologist, at least at first.  I am glad you seem to realize that “pre-hormonal” is meaningless; all young adolescents (and some not so young mothers!) have somewhat elevated levels of hormones but not all are dealing with the misery and acting out that your child seems to be experiencing at home.  She IS probably holding it all in at school (be thankful for that) and then feels she can let it go at home. If nothing else, she might benefit from talking it out with a professional and nonfamily member, whether its a mental illness diagnosis or not. There might be something going on with friends and classmates that she’s not telling you or her teachers.  Good luck!

Posted by MsMom on Aug 06, 2014 at 12:23pm

I agree with Labradorim, it is extremely important for you to have a proper assessment in order to determine the best course of action.  Child Psychologist or Psychiatrist or a Developmental Pediatrician would likely be a good place to start.
I would like to mention that a diagnosis of ADHD does not mean that medication would be the only or even best solution for your daughter.  However, I must urge you to keep an open mind; regardless of the diagnosis, there are many professionals who can offer informed and educated information concerning many treatment options.  Don’t let the media convince you that medication is all bad.  I have worked with many clients; some found medication to be a crucial PART of their treatment while others did not need it.
You are wise to start the process of getting a formal diagnosis ASAP for your sake but also for your daughter.  Getting her help before she has trouble academically and/or socially can be instrumental in helping her maintain her self-esteem.
I wish you and your family the best of luck on this journey.
Carrie Silverberg,  BA (Psyc), RECE
ADHD Consultant and Coach
www-adhd-strategies.com
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by ADHD-strategies.com on Aug 06, 2014 at 12:35pm

Reading your story about your daughter was like reading the story of my own daughter at that age. My daughter is my older child, and her younger brother has severe ADHD (extra H!).

My daughter made straight A’s all through elementary school, but began to be very mouthy and moody around 4th grade (girls become very cliquey and mean about that time). It turns out that she was suffering a great deal of anxiety. Added social issues and her brother’s overwhelming issues at school were weighing on her heavily. She was doing her best to keep it together at school, but a moody, back-talking mess at home. She was stressed to the max, but keeping it bottled up, not asking for help.

My daughter has significant issues with planning and organization that started to be revealed in 5th grade. Parents and teachers filled out the rating scales for ADHD at that time—parents saw ADHD and anxiety, teachers saw a perfect child with zero issues. So, no ADHD diagnosis, but a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety.

In middle school, her grades fell to A’s and B’s, but still totally acceptable. Her locker was a black hole where everything disappeared for all eternity, but she still managed good grades and had friends. Counseling for anxiety seemed to be helping some.

Last year she entered high school, and her grades fell to a mix of B’s, C’s, and even a D. This is a child with a gifted IQ. Her locker was still a black hole. She had multiple missing assignments in most classes. She even had a 2-week period where she forgot her locker combination and didn’t tell anyone since she had most of her class notebooks in her backpack. She finally told me and I demanded that she go to the office and ask for the combo.

I am still convinced that she also has ADHD. It often presents much later in girls than in boys, although I’ve suspected it since she was in 5th grade. Treating the anxiety has helped some (now with medication too), but I really feel the anxiety stems from the chaos in her mind created by ADHD.

I tell you my daughter’s story to help you see what looks like mood and respect issues could be anxiety, or ADHD, or both. It is wise to go ahead and seek a full neuropsychoeducational evaluation (privately) and find out for certain what you are dealing with. Then you can make appropriate decisions about treatment.

This online quiz can help you get started: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/554.html.

Read more about ADHD in girls in these articles too:

http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/80/
http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/72/
http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1626.html

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 06, 2014 at 2:11pm

Thank you all for responding, I really do appreciate the feedback as I have felt lost on where to even begin. I definitely feel for her and don’t want her to suffer.
We need to get an evaluation done and find some answers. I will keep an open mind!
@adhdmomma Thank you for for the links! It sounds like such a familiar scene! If I am feeling exhausted and emotionally drained at the end of the day, how does she feel? It breaks my heart. Thank you, again!

Posted by linabobeena on Aug 06, 2014 at 3:23pm

Fyi I’d avoid the school staff if I were you. The are there to support students after diagnoses are made, not to assess and suggest possible issues. My son’s school made a mess of things by suggesting a bunch of possible conditions that sent us on a wild goose chase or two, wasting our time and resources. It wasn’t until we saw a team of diagnostic professionals outside the school that we were able to get clear answers.

Also, another FYI, even though my son has an ADHD diagnosis, he’s never been medicated and has made vast improvements over the past three years due to behavior support, diet, exercise and his own growth and development, so if your daughter does in fact have ADHD, don’t fear that medication is the only option.

Good luck - I hope you find answers soon smile

Posted by OopsForgotAgain on Aug 06, 2014 at 3:52pm

Thanks OopsForgotAgain, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I always worry about wild goose chases.
I know that when I help my daughter stay organized, it’s a little better. It’s like she thrives off of routine, and when everything is chaos (like moving into a new home), it presents quite a challenge for her. I appreciate your input!

Posted by linabobeena on Aug 06, 2014 at 4:25pm

Your situation is so similar!  I have a wonderful 12 year old girl who got straight A’s in school but behavior at home and with her sister, in particular was impulsive and aggressive.  She did call out in class but all of her teachers loved her for her enthusiasm.  At around age 7 we suspected that something was not right due to the impulsiveness and sometimes uncontrollable behavior.  I hope that my e-mail helps you in that we saw many different doctors, psychologists, behaviorists, counselors and spent much time and effort.  I am hoping that I can assist you in avoiding some of the pitfalls.  First, I would have the “Connors” test given to your daughter.  You can have the school do it for free or you can hire someone to administer it.  The Connors test will help identify whether your daughter has ADHD and identify the type of ADHD.  You should also be asking everyone who is a good child psychiatrist who specializes in children with ADHD.  Do not choose one based upon what the doctors say they do but choose based upon people’s experiences.  Friends, school counselors should know who the good psychiatrists are in your area.  Don’t be afraid of medications.  Think of it this way- if you had to choose between having your daughter lead a “normal” life and family life and continuing on the way it its, the decision is clear.  Any unknown potential harm in my opinion is preferable to the continued behavior.  Having said that, medication is somewhat of a rollercoaster and trial by error.  My daughter got facial tics from stimulant drugs.  She is on 4 different medications which work in concert to control her behavior.  She takes the medication willingly.  However, due to physical growth, hormones, diminishing effectiveness of drugs, medications need to be changed periodically - we can see when a medication changes are needed.  My daughter’s behavior was deteriorating and our psychiatrist recommended a behaviorist which was not very successful and very expensive.  We actually went to several therapists, and two behaviorists over the years.  Our doctor then suggested something called “wraparound services” which is basically home-based behavioral services - the behaviorist comes to the house and observes and meets with all the family members once a week for 2 hours.  I don;‘t know where you are, but we are in Pa. and we receive those services for free through the state as well as her drugs, regardless of our income, due to her condition.  When the drugs are working, she is a different child.  As I write this, we can tell that she is up for a med change,as she has become more aggressive and uncooperative.  We feel the behaviorist is very good, but I would have to state that the drug component of my daughter’s treatment is the thing that really works.  I wish you the best of luck and if I can help in any way, feel free to ask.

Posted by Doylestownhoppie on Aug 06, 2014 at 9:09pm

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