“Seeing” Kieran

We determined to take Kieran to a specialist after his pediatrician scored a behavior rater from his teacher and us as possibly having ADHD.


I don’t know that the results “changed” anything in terms of his behavior, but it was a helpful experience for a few reasons.

First, we implemented a 504 for Kieran, which allowed him to receive extended time, movement breaks, prompts and scaffolds to complete work, and an understanding that he wasn’t just “not listening.”

Then, we learned the “when… then: strategy, which was successful in helping Kieran understand what we needed him to do in a given time, versus what he wanted to do. I shared about it before, but in case you are reading this for the first time, it goes like this: “When you clean your room, then you can have time to play video games.” “When you write three sentences, then you can water the plants.” “When you put on your shoes, then we can go to the playground.”

We have used this simple strategy in many situations. “When you finish your dinner, then you can play with your brother.” It’s not that we weren’t using a version of it before, but using the specific words, “when… then,” have helped Kieran understand that he has one job to do before he can do what he wants to. It has helped him focus on that one task that we need him to accomplish.

Next, instead of recommending medicine, the pediatrician suggested some relaxation strategies. We learned through her interviewing and testing of Kieran that his mind never shuts off. He said that he constantly hears a voice talking in his head. We learned that this is not “voices” in the troublesome sense, but his internal voice having a non-stop conversation in his brain.

We found out that he was lying in bed until midnight some nights, although we put him to sleep at 8:30 p.m. The relaxation techniques were meant to help him “settle down” at night to be able to fall to sleep. We also used melatonin (which was also recommended with Liam, so we felt comfortable with the recommendation).

Finally, we were told that he was bright and that he had ODD, which often occurs hand-in-hand with ADHD. This gave us hope that we didn’t raise a child that argued, simply because we were not good parents. He was wired in a way to be curious about his world and question why things were the way they were.

The doctor praised Kieran for how hard he worked during the testing and for how kind and friendly he was (after he warmed up). It was a positive experience and we felt that she understood him (and described him to us) in a way that we had not heard other speak – in a way that gave us tools and hope for his future.

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