ADHD & Dysgraphia

A new school year, a new teacher and another re-evaluation of how well I'm managing my son's ADHD. In short, we need to kick it up a notch. One thing we're considering is the possibility of Dysgraphia--extreme difficulty/deficiency in handwriting. It has always been there, but we've never had a name for it. This year, I had a talk with a teacher whose son has ADHD and Dysgraphia. It was a revelatory conversation.

James has original ideas, sharp critical thinking skills and grasps new concepts immediately. We work on essay writing at home and I know that he is able to come up with fantastic ideas, conclusions and examples--by TALKING about it. But as soon as he puts pen to paper, it all falls apart. The process of writing is so physically difficult that he ends up forgetting his train of thought and simply cannot produce a cohesive piece of writing.

He is ten and still has problems reversing letters, holding a pencil properly. Last year we made this HUGE effort to work on his printing and there was improvement--at least now his words are barely legible. But the process of writing takes FOR.EVER. He's falling behind in class because it takes him so long to write sentences.

Last year, his teacher started allowing him to type up all his work. Typing is a fantastic solution--but I need to find a typing program that will help him learn more quickly (IDEAS? SUGGESTIONS?).

The other piece of this puzzle is diet. I've been doing some research and heard that gluten-free diets help ADHD kids. I don't really know where to start with this--are there gluten-free diet books/recipes?

I also started giving James coffee in the mornings to see if the caffeine would help calm his brain a bit and help him focus. We've done it for four mornings so far and he says it helps (but then again, I suspect he just really likes the idea of getting to join the adult activity of drinking coffee in the morning). :)

Lastly, I'm making an appointment with our pediatrician to discuss the issue of medication. James' confidence is beginning to suffer, especially as his peers pull ahead in writing and test-taking skills. Despite being gifted and fully able to compete with his peers academically, James' ADHD is definitely hindering his ability to perform and produce results. I want to be pro-active now before he enters middle-school and has multiple teachers.

So, here's my New School Year ADHD checklist:

  1. Procure a typing program so James can learn how to type correctly and speedily.
  2. Research gluten-free diets (ANYONE HAVE ANY IDEAS??)
  3. Get official Dysgraphia diagnosis so we can present it to all future teachers in order to allow modified learning environment; ie. typing all tests, coursework instead of hand-writing it.
  4. Talk to pediatrician about possible ADHD medications; ie. what's available, costs, what works and why.

If you have any strategies and/or ideas, I'm all ears.....( the ONLY comments I'm not interested in hearing are the ones suggesting that ADHD is a 'fake' diagnosis or that medication is ALWAYS wrong. Thanks for understanding).