Finally, A Diagnosis!

Note:  This was excerpted from a more detailed (read: long-winded) post on my blog at

The Old Soul Doing Homework -- from after-school, through dinner and past bedtime -- still unfinished

I’ve been skating through life with identical twins born with an extra 21st chromosome and an Old Soul who was always a peaceful, nature-loving kid… Until her second grade teacher began yelling at her for her daydreaming ways. The constant barage of demeaning attacks in front of her classmates made her feel she was bad, slow, stupid. And when that teacher drove her to quiet tears, she’d yell at her even more, “don’t be such a baby”. She shut down. It wasn’t until 5 other parents of classmates reported that their kids were concerned because of the teacher’s “brutal” treatment of my child, that I talked with the teacher. “Is there a problem? Are we talking about attention deficit? Should I speak with the school psychologist? She responded emphatically, “NO! She just daydreams and doesn’t finish her work. She’s immature. And, with her grades, her name will never come across the desk of the school psychologist as a problem!” (My edification: the Old Soul is phenomenally intelligent.)

Third grade was better. “The teacher NEVER YELLS Mommy!” But the Old Soul’s slow-and-steady, turtle-like demeanor meant she often did not finish her work at school and at home, creating much frustration for me and her teacher. But her teacher didn’t fret over it — or report it to me — and her grades never faltered. 

Knowing my family wouldn’t survive another year of homework like the last two, I took the Old Soul to a counselor who worked painstakingly to give the Old Soul tools and tricks to help her stay focused. She tried mightily and marginally succeeded. But over and over again, she went back to her distracted ways. Sure she could not “control” it,  I discussed the situation with my trusted Pediatrician who said, “When a child is receiving behavioral counseling, is trying but can’t sustain the desired behavior, it’s a sign you may be dealing with a neurological/chemical cause that’s not within her control. Have you done any tests?” And he suggested the Connor Scale. 

The counselor and I talked about the over-diagnosis of ADHD. I explained that it was just as wrong to not diagnose a real attention problem as it was to over-diagnose a behavioral issue as one. If my daughter had a problem focusing and it was making her unhappy — regardless of how good her grades are — we would be remiss not to address it. The counselor chose the BASC. When he atttempted to do his part of the evaluation he was shocked to find the Old Soul couldn’t get past 4 True/False questions out of 100. Her meandering discussion of and intense indecision over giving the best, right answer was overwhelming to her. “Another sign!”

He scored the completed parent and teacher BASC evaluations. The results:  clinically significant Attention Deficit (no Hyperactivity) and at risk for secondary anxiety. The Hammer met the nail dead-on! 

Finally, a diagnosis! I’m relieved to have an explanation — not an excuse, as I keep reminding my Old Soul. Now, we just have to figure out how to help her deal with it.

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