Thursday, September 25, 2008

Becoming Convinced

I have scoured those questionnaires before, trying to evaluate whether my eldest has ADHD or is he just rambunctious, or do his parents practice lazy parenting, or is there some other issue? All those questions are so subjective...

Does he have trouble enjoying leisure activities quietly?

Does he talk excessively?

Does he have trouble waiting for his turn?

I mean, geez, he is a five year old boy!! And he's my first child, so its hard to compare him to your average Joe Kindergarten, if you don't know what average kindergartners generally act like, you know? What is talking excessively for a five year old? How much trouble do five year old's generally have waiting their turn? Michael and I find ourselves answering some of these questions differently on different days.

I checked out a few ADHD books from the library to read more about the diagnosis, the drug controversies, and to see whether he might have something else entirely, or is he just FIVE!? Something in the book lead me to a website, that lead to another, and I stumbled on this pack of CDs training folks to better parent kids with ADHD. I would not buy these CDs (they cost $350!), but they had a list of symptoms there that were quiet different than your average list. More specific. Less subjective. While a fraction of the list of symptoms over there did not apply to Noah, most all of them were like a blueprint totally describing my child! This is my boy:

Do you know why your child:
Has a big heart, but sabotages friendships?

Controls others, is bossy and needs to enforce “fairness”?

Relates well to adults and younger children, but struggles with peers?

Melts down over changes, disappointments and little things?

Is disorganized, forgetful and impulsive?

Appears unmotivated and underperforms academically?

Constantly makes noises?

Plays video games for hours, but can’t focus on work for 10 minutes?

Is afraid of being alone or the dark, and insists you lie down at bedtime?

Procrastinates with homework, but hyper-focuses on personal projects?

Needs you to be close or have your undivided attention?

Appears not to be listening, but remembers what you say weeks later?

Says, “I’m bored!” or "I'm stupid" often?

Eats the same food routinely?

Gets angry or impatient when you talk too much or lecture?
Can be extremely funny, but also pensive and moody?

Oh my god... If this was the Connor's Scale for ADHD, my son would score nearly 100% And these are not the usual symptoms you hear about. He CANNOT be alone, even in the bathroom, he calls himself "stupid" when angry, he CONSTANTLY makes verbal noises (although doesn't move his body so much) and the thing about getting along with older and younger folks but not kids his age is true as well. In fact, all of the above are true. I removed the 2.5 or so that did not apply.

Then, the other night, I got a call from his teacher. She is feeling overwhelmed with him, and says he is barely learning anything and is disrupting the classroom. I know everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but she doesn't seem to be able to cope with and wrangle him as well as his kindergarten teacher does (although I know he is testing her limits these first couple weeks).

When asked whether she felt he might have ADHD or not, she said she wasn't a doctor but that she had a mother of a boy she had taught a couple years ago come up to her recently, crying, saying she had finally put her son on medication and it made all the difference. So, it seems while she is not willing to give us a "yes, I think he has it", she is fine with suggesting medicating him.

I feel on the fence... I don't want to drug my kid unnecessarily, giving him amphetamines throughout his entire childhood, but I also don't want to deprive him of his ability to listen and learn (and allow others to learn) through most of his formative years, while I sit back and wonder if meds are the right thing or not.

For now, we are going to begin a new behavior modification regimen, and probably go see a behavior modification specialist that was recommended to us.
You know... sit on the fence a little longer trying to see which side is greener.


Snowbird said...

I totally understand your reluctance to put Noah on meds. Speaking as an ex teacher rather than a mom or grandmother, I have seen lots of kids with ADHD who struggled in school, were so unhappy with themselves, etc. Their parents, too, were opposed to putting them on drugs but decided to give it a try. In most cases, the children remained on the meds and made tons of progress. I remember one little guy who couldn't even focus his eyes on you and was 2 years behind in reading. Once he went on the meds, he settled down, made fantastic progress, was so proud of himself etc. The last time I saw him he was in high school and was working as a cashier at the store. This was a kid who had a horrible time with math before. Just one example of what can happen.

I'm glad that you are taking him to the behavior mod counselor and I hope this helps. Just don't let this drag on and on. Noah will become more and more unhappy with himself and everything and everyone else. You and Michael will become more and more convinced you are not parenting correctly when I don't think that is the case.

I know that you have talked to your brother about Sam's problems and amazing progress and I'm sure this helped. I don't know what advice he gave you but I would consider it as he has a lot of knowledge about the subject.

Good luck, keep us posted, and I love you all.


Katrina Stonoff said...

Our pediatrician told us that if a child really does have ADHD and needs medication, it'll be a relief to the parents to learn it. She also said you'd know within hours of taking the first dose if it was the right thing to do.

That sounded like hocus-pocus to me, but then my sister's son was diagnosed with it, and she had exactly that experience. Within four hours of taking his first dose of medication, she was saying, "Yes! This is the boy I know and love."

Just FYI. Good luck.

gail said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with this. It is so frightening when our decisions as parents have such life altering consequences for our children. And frustrating that the guidelines are so hard to nail down. Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to decide is how to dress them?!

I know this sounds trite and useless, but stop, breathe, relax. You are the best possible parents for Noah to have. Make your pro/con lists, make your best decision. I agree with your mom that it's important not to drag things out, but your decision will not be cast in stone. There's a lot of trial and error in parenting, and that's where I think Noah is so lucky -- you will decide and re-evaluate until you get it right. As your mom and Katrina say, you will know when you get there because it will be a big relief for all of you.

Remember: breathe.

Pixiewe aka Nicole said...
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Pixiewe aka Nicole said...

I'm so there with you.

My oldest (12) Triston has ADHD. I went down a very long, dark path when Triston was 4 years old.

Ohh the stories I can tell.

But now we are on Meds, he has his moments but all in all he has turned out to be a good kid.

organicyogamom said...

I don't know if you're interested in sucha thing or not - but since the meds aren't your first choie you may want to check out . I don't have any personal experiences with kids and ADHD (although I dated a few men with it for sure!) looking at the various aspects of diet can be really helpful! Best of luck!

Cindy said...

Just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you guys.

Karin Zirk said...

Except for wanting to be with Mommy, that list fit me perfectly. So I guess I'm ADHD as well. Oh well, all the best people are. Rock on!

Emily said...

i know next to nothing about ADHD and the benefits/detriments to medication. i'm sure you'll make the right decision.

i just sympathize with you for having to make the decision. health problems and the treatment can be so difficult to figure out!

Gumby said...

OK, based on the list, *I* have ADHD.

Here's something that Bob told me when I was ashamed of needing Paxil to adequately endure my life - "It's not anything you can control. It's brain chemistry." That helped me a lot. Meds, when really needed, can save a life.

Wrath said...

Karen, we have obviously talked on this topic several times before.

I would just try it. While I am not of the opinion that "you will see results in four hours", I believe you will see results.

It takes the body sometime to adjust to certain meds. takes time to determine the right medication and the right dosage. Some medications will mess with his appetite. Others might "zone him out" or mess with his sleep cycles. But there are MANY options and the right one is out there. You have to find the one that matches Noah's chemistry the best ..... which means you shouldn't quit if the first thing you try isn't optimal.

Sam tried two different meds including Strattera before we arrived on Focalin. Last year we tried something new but ended up moving back to Focalin at Sam's own request. We review his meds annually with a child psychiatrist and meet with her every 3 months.

We normally stop the meds over the summer and only restart with the school year. It tends to take a couple of weeks before he settles in.....and you can see this in his grades. Sam is still trying to recover from an early D in AP Social Studies. Since then, he has been doing solid work in all his classes.

If it works appropriately for him, he will feel the "static" or "fog" lift and things will just seem to be clearer to him. He will just seem happier and less frustrated.

If it works the way I feel it probably will, you will see his self esteem grow and yourself wishing you hadn't waited so long.

Snowbird said...

Karen, Dave's post was great. I hope that you take his advice. I understand and appreciate your reluctance to put Noah on meds but I think you have to give it a try at least. Have you had a talk with Sam about his take on this? As one who is going through it, he might be able to give you some insights from his point of view.

I also think that Mikey's comments were very good.

Shama-Lama Mama said...

I thank everyone for your thoughtful comments and good advice! It's nice to have such a caring support group.

I do want to let everyone know that as of yet, Noah has not been prescribed ANY medication. I am just trying to learn as much as I can about both sides of the issue so that if and when that prescription comes, we can make an informed decision.

So far, the psychiatrist has recommended behavior modification techniques, which I have researched and started on my own, but we will likely go see a professional to see if they have anything else to add to or adjust our method.

Thanks for letting me vent and articulate my jumbled thoughts about all of this. It makes my feelings more tangible and understandable when I can write them out.

Lindsay said...
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Nikki said...

I just found your blog through 4 little men's blog. I'm 22 yr old who was disgnosed with ADHD when I was in 3rd grade and tried everything throughout my school years and even still to this day. When my parents decided to put me on medication, I truely believe it was the best decision they ever made for me. If you have any questions or anything, feel free to e-mail me ADHD is used nowadays as a cop out for parents with simply active kids but for the kids that really do suffer, it can make a huge difference. I also tried different herbal and vitamin combinations at some point as well that did nothing.