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Five-Year-Old Is ADHD and Oppositional

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Eileen S. Marzola, Ed.D.

Q: Our five-year-old has milk allergies, overly sensitive hearing, and ADHD. He's also exhibits a very high level of intelligence. He's done very well with his current medication. However, we are now dealing with oppositional and defiance issues.

He's been expelled from two preschools and is about to be removed from a third. We decided to keep him out of a traditional preschool, but we're afraid that if he stays at home he will not develop social skills.

Would enrolling him part time in a small family daycare be a good option? Am I being misled by my school district when they say that he must first enter a traditional kindergarten setting and exhibit problems (fail) before an IEP can be initiated? Please help. We don't want this great little guy to get pushed to the side or labeled a "problem child".

A: First, go back to your doctor and let him know about the oppositional-defiant behaviors. He may want to make an adjustment in your son's medication.

Next, call the national office of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (www.chadd.org) at 1-800-233-4050 to find the nearest parent support group in your community. They may have information about daycares or kindergartens with professionals who are trained to meet your child's needs. Too often family-run daycares, although they may be extremely well intentioned and supportive, may not have teachers who have the training to work with children who exhibit difficult-to-manage behaviors.

Someone at CHADD should also be able to walk you through the process of getting appropriate supports for your son at school. It is not true that he must fail at a traditional kindergarten before he can have an IEP. Many children in preschool have IEPs that they bring with them when they enter kindergarten.

I'd also have a look at Clare B. Jones' book, Sourcebook for Children with Attention Deficit Disorder: A Management Guide for Early Childhood Professionals and Parents (2nd edition). You can order it from ADD Warehouse at 1-800-233-9273 or go to their website at www.addwarehouse.com.

More on: Expert Advice

For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.


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