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Learning difficulties?

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#1 crocodilessnap

Posted 17 May 2019 - 10:02 PM

Hi all, I'm about to start the assessment process for my youngest after his teacher raised concerns at the end of last term.
The assessment side of things isnt new to me as I already have an 8yr old DD who has ADHD/SPD/Anxiety however 5yr old DS presents VERY differently and I'm at a loss as to what might be going on so I thought I'd see if any of you lovely ladies might have some thoughts.
Please note I am seeking medical advice however I'm facing big wait times so wanted to do some research myself before then.
Right from an early age he has struggled to remember things even with lots and lots of repetition (ie after 18 months of almost daily discussions about the spelling of his name he still needs help). He struggles with almost all in class work. Requires almost continuous 1 on 1 assistance to stay on task. Says his mind gets jumbled and its makes him forget.
All these things I've noticed and brought up to teachers before but has always been brushed off, even now family members are still dismissive of anything being wrong. However they said the same re my daughter before her diagnosis as well,so not using that as my benchmark.
Despite all this he doesnt have the same emotional swings his sister does, is very organised and neat and is generally a lovely natured and well behaved kid, though he does also get very tired a lot and has tummy issues plus food intolerances.
Does this sound familiar to anyone or does anyone has any thoughts on where I could focus my reading before we manage to get the offical assessments started?

#2 ERipley

Posted 17 May 2019 - 10:08 PM

Would inattentive adhd be a better fit? Just your note about him saying his mind is jumbled and being unable to stay on task. I’ve heard people mention that a lot about I-adhd.

#3 Jenflea

Posted 17 May 2019 - 10:46 PM

Could it possibly be low iron?
Or celiacs if he has tummy issues?

#4 crocodilessnap

Posted 18 May 2019 - 04:16 AM

View PostERipley, on 17 May 2019 - 10:08 PM, said:

Would inattentive adhd be a better fit? Just your note about him saying his mind is jumbled and being unable to stay on task. I’ve heard people mention that a lot about I-adhd.
My DD is inattentive ADHD so definitely a possibility, though other than the jumbled mind he really is a very different kid with none of the additional issues she has. Though not ruling that one out.

View PostJenflea, on 17 May 2019 - 10:46 PM, said:

Could it possibly be low iron?
Or celiacs if he has tummy issues?
He has been tested for celiac and was negative, though low iron could be an issue as his iron levels were on the low side when he last had a blood test.

Edited by crocodilessnap, 18 May 2019 - 04:20 AM.

#5 JoanJett

Posted 18 May 2019 - 07:09 PM

It could be ADHD with primarily inattentive symptoms.  I think the emotional regulation aspect of ADHD is modulated by underlying temperament/personality.  

The other things to consider would be sleep disorders - they can mimic ADHD, so if the other testing doesn't show anything, a sleep study might be worth considering.

It would be worth talking to your GP about a trial of iron supplementation for a few months (it will take that long to see results) if his iron has been tested and is on the low side.

The other things could be a processing disorder, like auditory processing, if he needs lots of repetition of verbal tasks and is confused by them.  Have his hearing checked if you haven't already.

Problems with working memory/processing speed can look a lot like what you describe (with or without ADHD or another condition), so if you are having some cognitive testing with your work up, that would be worth looking at.

While you're waiting to go through all your reviews/assessments, things that could help (if you haven't already tried them) - step by step for everything and visual checklists at home. If he's having trouble with spelling his name, try tactile approaches like play dough and sand tracing and visual "hooks" to help him remember the shape of his name and some visual cues for the letters.  

He's still young, but it's right to be "on alert" with a sibling with ADHD, because his odds are increased.

Good luck.

#6 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 27 May 2019 - 09:00 PM

JJ could you elaborate on the low iron please?

#7 JoanJett

Posted 28 May 2019 - 09:29 AM

Re the iron.  There are quite a few studies that show that kids with ADHD have lower iron stores (measured by ferritin) than controls (ie kids without ADHD) and that lower levels correlate significantly with worse ADHD symptoms.  The reference range for ferritin is quite broad, so some of these kids have "normal" ferritin, but it's still significantly lower than matched controls.  Importantly, it's not just about appetite suppression and low dietary intake due to meds, as there are studies that only include kids off meds.  

There is also quite a bank of information about the importance of iron in sleep architecture for kids.  Again, pushing their iron to the higher end of the normal range helps with sleep and sleep disorders/deficiency can mimic ADHD symptoms and impact learning.  They can also be another component of ADHD.

It's something our Developmental Paediatrician has been focused on for some time.  Our son had "normal" ferritin, but at the lower end of the range, and he's been on iron supplementation as part of his multi-modality treatment.  

It's not something that should be commenced without medical advice or monitoring, as too much iron can be dangerous.  But it's something to consider in the mix with GP/Paediatrician.

Here's one easy to read early study

#8 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 28 May 2019 - 02:39 PM

JoanJett so your paed tests the child's iron levels first? DS is an extreme picky eater (no meat) and I'm sure his iron would be low. He would really hate a blood test though. I've been supplementing him with Iron Melts. I might raise it with our paed next time we visit.

Edited by FuzzyChocolateToes, 28 May 2019 - 02:49 PM.

#9 JoanJett

Posted 29 May 2019 - 09:41 AM

Yes.  He had a test before starting supplementation and a follow up test about 6 months later to make sure we were tracking correctly with the supplements (not over/under dosing).  Since then, we try to aim for about once a year, but the levels have been quite stable.

The blood tests are a pain, but we minimised it (helps that I have to have a blood test every month and he has previously attended with me) - we purchased EMLA cream and applied it 45mins prior to both arms.  My son hates the tourniquet more than anything, same for having his blood pressure checked each visit.

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