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My son has been diagnosed with ADHD. He has been kicked out of four different daycares starting when he was just 2 years old. He is now in Kindergarten, and my wife and I hoped that with his recent diagnoses, medication and change of scenery to "big boy" school he would show signs of improvement. He hasn't. School is in its fourth week and he has been sent to the principal's office every day but 3. He has run out of the class. Dumped things out of their containers in the classroom and principle's office. Thrown various tantrums. Threatened teachers and the principles.

Today they called my wife to ask if she would sit in the classroom with him to show support for the teacher. She said of course she would. We were in the conference room talking to the principal while he was in the office with the other principal and another student. Right before we were going to get him to take him back to class, he picked up a clipboard and smashed the other kid in the face with it. He said he was thinking about what it would be like to have a lose tooth so he wanted to see if he could make the other kid's tooth loose. So he's been suspended from school for a day.

He's a very smart kid. He already does pretty much everything they're supposed to be doing at the end of the school year, so he's not suffering academic-wise, yet. At home, he's really well behaved most of the time. When he does start acting up it's usually later in the day, and he's tired. So this doesn't seem to explain his behavior in the early afternoon when he's at school.

We've tried every type of reward/punishment we can think of to do. Right now he has the incentive of hosting a party which he can invite anyone he wants to where we'll have a movie night with popcorn and decorations and whatever else he wants, if he can go one week without being sent to the principal. His teacher knows about it, and reminds him about it when he starts to act up, but so far it hasn't stopped him.

He's told us that Kindergarten is boring and that he wants to go to first grade. We told him that's fine, but they're not going to let that be an option until he shows that he can be in class and behave. We have run out of ideas. The psychiatrist keeps saying to "look for the triggers", but there don't seem to be any. Sometimes he literally looks for something to upset him. His trigger is getting what he wants, when he wants, by whatever means necessary. He doesn't seem to care about rewards or punishments when he's set his mind to something. Has anyone dealt with something like this before? Any advice? We really need some outside the box thinking here, because we've tried everything we can think of. We've even read books about "kids like him", but nothing has helped.

  • Since when do you have the ADHD diagnosis and have you had his IQ checked? Full bloodworks? Does he have siblings? Any other observations? Does this behaviour happen at random times or at certain times during the day? You mention "early afternoon", for example. Welcome to the site! – Stephie Sep 17 '15 at 13:16
  • We've had the diagnosis for about 4 months. We have not had his IQ checked, but every doctor/teacher/person that meets him is blown away by how smart he is. We have a 1 year old, who he loves dearly. (Probably more than any of the rest of us). As far as the time of day, every time we seem to think that we've figured out a time it shifts. He does seem to get in more trouble during the afternoons, but that's not to say he can't have issues earlier. (He was sent to the principal's office the other day before he even got to his class in the morning.) Thank you. – Josh Sep 17 '15 at 13:32
  • Speaking from experience, giftedness and ADHD can not only look very similar, they sometimes happen together. I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but there were a few keywords that triggered my question: Lack of self-control, especially when tired or bored, spontaneous "weird" behaviour that relates to curiosity (the loose-tooth incident), extreme "smartness" and declaring school as boring. Especially with first children, we tend to see them as the norm, when compared to others they aren't. I strongly suggest that you have him tested. Often the ADHD diagnosis is a too-quick catch-all. – Stephie Sep 17 '15 at 13:51
  • Tested for what? Intelligence? As an example of the types of things he does that surprise us. He can do a 200 piece puzzle by himself. He likes Legos, and does the ones for 8-9 year olds. He can read (relatively well). He can add and subtract, count to 100+. He has the memory of an elephant. We were going to an aquarium the other day, which we hadn't been to in over a year. He asked if we thought Jacob would be there and that he hoped Jacob was doing well. We had no idea who Jacob was. He then told us that Jacob was the guy who worked by the touch pool where he petted the stingray last year. – Josh Sep 17 '15 at 13:54
  • Get his IQ tested asap and by a good psychologist. Talk to the professional how you should prepare him, e.g. how you should present the scenario. Ours suggested telling him that it was like a contest where he would be allowed to show everything he already could. I have a hunch that you will be back here soon with more questions... And I'm looking forward to this. I won't write an answer now, because I think ADHD and his behaviour is only one side of the medal. Until then, inform your Kindergarten that you are seeking professional help and ask them to support you by being patient. – Stephie Sep 17 '15 at 13:58
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I've realised after writing this that your question is months old but I'm going to post it anyway because I also have a child who behaves differently to others and want to offer encouragement. Your situation is different to mine but a couple of things from your questions stand out to me.

"My son has been diagnosed with ADHD". My child has Aspergers syndrome and that has such an enormous range of behaviours that diagnosis isn't the end of the story. If you haven't already, I suggest that you make contact with someone who specialises in management of gifted children and make contact with other parents with similar children to find some shared understanding of behaviours.

"We've tried every type of reward/punishment we can think of to do". My brother drove my mother to fury because she had no way to influence his behaviour. Both punishment and reward didn't alter his behaviour at all, even as a teenager. My son is the same and I'm still struggling with it. The only suggestion I can offer based on that is that scaling up the reward or punishment is likely to make things worse rather than better.

It sounds like your child makes his own decisions for his own reasons and I've found some success with my son by talking things through with him and introducing some understanding of consequences. Ideas as simple as counting to ten before acting on an idea sometimes take root. The intelligence is a double-edged sword as this produces children that are capable of conceptualising possibilities that they don't have the wisdom and experience to assess - there's no "that would be a bad idea". What he needs is tools that he can apply to determine whether he should act on an idea.

Lastly, from the comments it sounds like you're doing an awesome job. With an engineer and a librarian for parents there is real potential in his becoming someone who knows how to soak up knowledge and apply it to solutions. I think you're already providing the gifted program that the school isn't.

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