Thank you for the replies to the questions and the added information. It helps a lot in understanding what the situation is. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.
I can imagine how distressing this situation must be for you. You are clearly a loving and caring grandmother and it must be so hard to have your little grandson going through this. It is scary for him and confusing and it's so difficult for the whole family.
I want to say first, though: I am so impressed and inspired that his mother is leaving work to spend more time with him. Please tell her and her husband how remarkably important and wonderful this is. There is not one thing that can be done for him that is as important as the step that they are preparing to take on his behalf. How sensational.
I wish that I could say that this type of "sudden" transformation is so unheard of. But it is not. ADHD can have that type of sudden onset and at that age or any time before about 11 years old it can start like that. There are no blood tests or any type of quantitative testing that can be done to either predict onset or to confirm the diagnosis.
We know from what you've shared with me, though, that this is indeed an ADHD type situation. There was no instability in the home or relationships to account for the behavioral changes. The symptoms are ADHD type symptoms. The important thing now is adequate treatment.
I don't think you should be fearful of the Ritalin in principle. It is a stimulant. In people who do not have ADHD, it makes them more hyperactive and anxious in behavior. But in kids (and adults) with ADHD it has the opposite reaction; it calms them, and lets them focus, and helps them organize their thoughts. Remarkable. So you all should be able to consult with the doctor(s) within a month of starting the Ritalin to be able to tell if it is behaving in the ADHD pattern. If not, the doctor may try a non-stimulant medication before the diagnosis is questioned. That would be prudent.
I am a firm believer that medications, especially in children, should not be relied on totally for treatment. Skills and tools are vital to help a child cope with the symptoms and the internal processes happening to him. That his mother is going to be there more to supervise his time and to help him cope is sensational. But she needs to start learning how to help in a more educated way. Therefore, I recommend that they start working with either a child psychologist or a therapist who is experienced in ADHD and is skills/tools oriented. There are also some ADHD treatment centers in large cities. I don't know about their area in Queensland, though. And she should make sure (as should the dad and you could as well) to begin to be educated in ADHD and resources. There are now so many websites that they can get many resources online.
Here are two directories for therapists/psychologists I have and use for Australia. I don't know, though, how good and comprehensive it will be for ADHD. So his pediatrician may be a better referral source.
This is an online therapist finder for Australia that I like because you can see a picture of the person and read about them a bit. It's very general, though, so you have to specify what you're looking for.
The Australian Psychological Society has a search. Scroll down and put in self-esteem in the search window.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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