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ADHD in Tennessee

Hi, new from Nashville, 5 year old has SPD and suspected ADHD

Hi, my 5 year old daughter seems to have ADHD as well as SPD (SPD has been diagnosed and she receives OT one hour per week). It seems to be the combined type. She is very impulsive, very energetic, requires at least double the exercise of peers to function, and is highly distractible. She is this way at home and at school.  She is in Montessori school and has been for the past 2.5 years. She is technically doing her kindergarten year; we haven’t decided what to do next year; whether to continue her in Montessori elementary (a new school as the current only goes through K), send her to kindergarten in public or private “traditional” school next year, or first grade in traditional school.  Would love insight other than just “I’ve heard Montessori isn’t good for ADHD” because I’ve heard that too but I think it can be and probably depends on the school.

Now for diagnosis and treatment. I am very frustrated with the process. We got a referral to Vandy last fall and got in in December. They said they wanted to observe her for ADHD in 6 months because then she would be 5 and they don’t like to dx before 5. 6 months passed and they said once she started kindergarten. At the time we intended to send her to public K but decided she is WAY too impulsive. Now they won’t consider it for a year because she isn’t in public school. I am so frustrated. This is a kid who climbed most of the way up a chain link baseball backstop (25 feet high or so) before I could make her come down. A fall from that height could be deadly. I feel like there are safety concerns and they aren’t listening. I’m glad we aren’t at a pill mill but this seems the opposite. Also I am not comfortable telling them all the terrible things about my child in front of her. I don’t think of her that way and don’t want her to think that’s how her parents view her, BUT when I told them that they didn’t care.

Any advice, insight, help would be appreciated.

P.S. She was adopted and there was prenatal drug exposure but of course this is pretty common even without that. Just mentioning if it is relevant.


Hi graytoday!

If you don’t feel like you are being heard or taken seriously by the current evaluation team, seek another opinion. I feel like hospital programs can sometimes be more rigid. A pediatric psych ( can diagnose and may be more willing to consider the full picture. It’s great that you are cautious about being negative in front of your daughter, but you also have to find a way to convey the full and accurate picture of her behavior to the physician—otherwise, you may never get an accurate diagnosis ( Be sure to let them know, in no uncertain terms, that her behavior leaves you afraid for her safety.

Your mention of prenatal drug exposure makes my antenna go up for FASD (fetal alcohol) as well. Has she been evaluated for that? It can be hard to find a specialist in that, but you should be able to find someone in a city like Nashville.

Follow your intuition and keep advocating!

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

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 25, 2014 at 1:30pm

We are in a very similar place with our 5.5 year old daughter who just started kindergarten this fall. We started out having her evaluated through the school system 18 months ago and they said essentially, “We see she’s struggling in life but she’s so smart that maybe she’s just smart and awkward.” Yeah, so not helpful. *headdesk*

So our family doctor gave us a referral to Siskin center for developmental pediatrics (Chattanooga) and started their process a year ago. Our daughter was diagnosed with a speech impediment, a pragmatic language delay, and SPD. Finally, I pushed them on the ADHD and they agreed to evaluate her this fall after school started but said they wouldn’t offer medication or a full diagnosis until she was 6 years old.

Because of various issues with the head doctor at Siskin, we sought parenting advice and counseling at another location—a counseling center with a developmental psychologist who specializes in children and adults with developmental disorders. We’ve been paying for those sessions out of pocket and it’s been the best money we’ve spent this whole time. That psychologist helped us a lot but also explained that because of the huge reaction of the public to the “overdiagnosis” of ADHD, most professionals are very cautious about diagnosing a young child. I totally understand that they need people to confirm that the child’s symptoms are issues in multiple areas of life, not just at home, but it makes it hard to get help when the child is having major problems at home at such a young age.

Anyways, the psychologist told us that we can ask for a full evaluation at any point we feel our daughter needs it. We decided to wait until after school started to see how things go but over the course of the summer, we decided to homeschool her because we couldn’t find any school options that we were comfortable with. We’re involved in multiple groups outside the home so we’ll be able to use the adults that work with her in those groups for evaluations but it does make things more complicated. I have a feeling I’ll be calling the psychologist for a pre-evaluation session by the end of this month. We’re really struggling again and school is not going well at all.

So that’s my advice: find a developmental psychologist who will work with you. We found that the psychologist took a lot more of the environment and effects the child was having on the family into account than the medical doctor at Siskin did. The doctor was very focused on the medical symptoms only, not the dysfunction and stress in the entire family. It also helped that the psychologist would do sessions with just us, the parents, without our child there. I also am not comfortable discussing all the issues in front of her. She’s extremely intelligent and reactive to my emotional state, so I am always more guarded in front of her.

I hope you are able to find someone to take your concerns seriously and give you and your girl the help you need!!

Posted by Lynarri on Sep 05, 2014 at 1:44pm

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