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Making Time for ADHD: The Work Begins

Posted by Natalie Hastings on

After we received Graham’s diagnosis of ADHD-Combined, at first I felt guilt (for not getting him tested sooner) and relief (that we had something to work with).

Soon, the emotions subsided as I got to work figuring out how to get him the most support I could. Graham needed a combination of school interventions, medicine and behavioral therapy.

We got word less than two weeks before school started that Graham had ADHD. We were expecting a dyslexia diagnosis. Suddenly, I had two weeks to sort out everything for Graham so that he could start off the school year from a place of confidence and positioned for success.

Graham’s diagnosis was through a program that primarily works with learning disabilities, and since he doesn’t have one, that program wouldn’t be a fit for therapy or any potential medical needs.

We left the appointment with a stack of papers, advice to go buy a three-hole-punch and start a binder on Graham’s file, and a little bit of panic (at least on my part) of what we would do next. I felt like a countdown clock was ticking down. If Graham started the school year the same way he ended it in the spring, would he get discouraged? Would he want to give up?

I needed to start with a program that could handle his medication and therapy with a holistic approach.

The Children’s Hospital in town is a top national program, but it takes eons to get off of the waitlist. Many other programs take place in what I would call the suburban outposts of our city. Graham needed a program that was close enough to make weekly or biweekly trips feasible, and 40 minutes one-way without traffic at one of these outposts was not feasible for us.

We also needed a program that accepted our insurance. Readers from the U.S. can understandthe struggle finding a program accepting insurance is all too real.

After getting a few “no”s, I decided to just start dialing every treatment center my insurance carrier provided, going down the list in alpha order.   

I quickly found an office directly across the street from my husband’s employer. BINGO.

Grace, providence, luckor maybe all threeled me to an amazing center that I thought only accepted Medicaid but in reality is open to all.

The initial intake involved another screening where the psychiatric nurse practitioner read the results of Graham’s assessment along with some new assessments she had us (the parents) complete. We decided to try medicine as one of the interventions for Graham.

We also left the appointment with a referral to the behavioral therapy program.

Back at school, we were lucky to have an incredible resource manager who 1. alerted us that Graham might have ADHD and urged us to test him, and 2. has the flexibility to put interventions in place even before formal diganoses or IEP/504 plans were created. She encouraged me not to panic;  there was plenty of time to get things in order for Graham.


I hoped she was right.


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