Tag Archives: ADHD

A tale of two children…continued

When last I blogged about drugging my kids and what a joy it is, we were waiting to see the specialist.  That has since happened and I’ve received some eye-opening information.  When the doctor asked me what my goals were for Bryce, of course I told him that I would like him to be able to sit for his EOGs (End of Grade Tests) next year in 3rd grade.  If he is unable to sit and test, he will be unable to pass the 3rd grade.  Since he’s already repeated kindergarten, this potential blow to his self-esteem is not an option.  Then I told the doctor that I needed some counseling, too;  that I was resistant to medicating my children, although I know it’s for the best.

The doctor nodded sagely,  asked me several questions and observed Bryce while he entered data into his computer.  He had already received the mountain of paperwork from Bryce’s teacher, tests from his school and an additional mountain of paperwork from me.  For those of you who believe people drug their kids because it’s “convenient” for them, let me disavow you of that notion — it is an act of congress to get medication AND a superior court case to actually get referred to a behavioral specialist.  This visit was two years in the making.

Near the end of our session, which was a full hour at least — try getting a doctor to spend that kind of time with you when you’re not open on a surgical table — the doctor turned his computer screen toward me.  He explained about standard deviation from the norm and what an expected level of activity and impulsiveness is for a nine year old boy in good health.  Then he showed me Bryce’s results…TWO FULL standard deviations from the norm.  You’re familiar with a bell curve?  Picture that with a hole in the top and a skyscraper sticking out of it.  Apparently, only 1%-2% of the population fits into this elite group of people.

I knew my monkey-boy was a monkey-boy, but I had no idea how monkey of a boy he was…because he’s the boy I love and that’s just how he is.

This may be why I needed a little push to point me in the right direction.  In addition to my son’s medical, behavioral and educational history, the doctor also had a good bit of my family history plugged into his computer.  Thanks to my very honest responses, his file indicated that my side of the family, (while we do not suffer from phlebitis, angina, coronary disease, rabies, psoriasis, of poor personal hygiene),  has a significant history of alcoholism…On both the maternal and paternal sides. On a good note, although I’ve certainly been accused of such on a more than casual basis before, I don’t strictly have mental disorders in my family.

But I digress…

According to information published in 2009 on addresources.org, “…people with ADHD as a whole are more likely to medicate themselves with substances than those who do not have ADHD.  Drs. Hallowell and Ratey estimate that 8 to 15 million Americans suffer from ADHD; other researchers estimate that as many as 30-50% of them use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their ADHD symptoms.

The doctor looked at me and told me point blank that given my family history, Bryce is up to 50% more likely than the average kid to develop alcoholism or substance abuse if his ADHD goes untreated.

That’s all it took.  I told him to sign me up.

So, we started a new round of treatments a few weeks ago.  Bryce is taking a powerful drug that causes drowsiness and (at times) crankiness while he adjusts to having it in his system.  It’s been tough watching him temporarily become “not-Bryce” and seem to lose interest in some of the stuff he loves, like swimming and baseball.  However, once he adjusts all this will change, I’m told.  And if not, we’ll try something else.  Then, something else.  But, by golly, we’re sticking with it.  I’m praying that he’ll adjust and get some of that zip back in his step.  Then, we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out for him when school starts.

Its for certain, “The Marauding Mother” will be back on moonshine musings talking drugs after EOGs.  Until then, keep a good thought for a really neat kid.

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A Tale of Two Children, Part II

As you already know from my last post, both my kids have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and things have turned out well for my daughter.

But this is the story of my son, who is a “horse of another color?”  “Another ball of wax?”  Well, after all that self acceptance and actualization, the second child blew me away.

When Bryce’s kindergarten teacher contacted me and told me I needed to have him evaluated, I absolutely rejected her proposal.  There was no way that I could have TWO kids with ADD.  No way – statistically impossible.  God just wouldn’t do that to me.  (This IS about me, right?  Maybe not-so-much…) After all, he doesn’t play with matches, terrorize small animals or have social issues.

Well, well, well…wasn’t I suddenly Mrs. Smarty-Pants-Know-It-All?  That is a grave misconception of ADD kids as “bad” kids or “out of control” children whose parents supposedly put them on drugs because it’s inconvenient to parent them.

Guess I got a little judgy-and self righeous didn’t I?  Dang, I hate it when that happens...just the same, I did not want to put in the paperwork and jump straight to the conclusion that I could have failed at parenting twice.  I was going to make doubly sure about Bryce because…well, because I had gone back to being ashamed and feeling like a failure.  After using every trick in the kindergarten arsenal of separation, silent lunch, developing an IEP (Individual Educaiton Plan) with the principal, teacher and guidance counselor, and taking him for analysis by a psychiatrist, sleep therapist and physical therapist, I got four different opinions.  The school system said ADD.  The psychiatrist said NOT ADD – have him checked for Sensory Modulation Disorder.  The sleep therapist said not ADD – consistent sleep interruption due to low iron and lack of R.E.M. sleep produced symptoms that presented as ADD.  The physical therapist said, “What a sweet boy – he just doesn’t listen!” (however, she backed the idea of sensory modulation disorder.)

According to the school of Occupational Therapy at the Hebrew School of Jerusalem, “Sensory modulation refers to the ability to process and organize the quality and speed of reaction to sensory stimuli, to filter unrelated stimuli and retain a certain level of attention which is necessary for optimal functioning.”  For Bryce, this meant that when too much stuff is coming at him to process, he goes bananas.  “Bananas” is the clinical term, I believe.  Think of all the new stuff that goes on in Kindergarten – new kids, zillions of colors, letters, shapes, and routines…you get the drill.  So, we started occupational therapy several times per week.  We took him to a sleep clinic and after the evaluation, started him on ferrous sulfate (oh yum) to give him enough iron to help his body produce melatonin and help him sleep through the night.  We had several tearful meetings with the principal and teacher.  In the end, the IEP, iron treatments, O.T. (before and during school) and attempts to reject the possible diagnosis of ADD served no one.  Least of all Bryce.  He ended up unable to succeed in school and had to repeat Kindergarten (with a different teacher – that’s a blog for another day).

The following year, I acquiesced to Frank when he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Honey, we’ve tried everything else…why not just see if some medicine will help?”  We went to the doctor.  We filled out the mountain of paperwork and most importantly, we reviewed the observation notes of the counselor.  A portion of the review read like this:  “put pencil in mouth, chewed eraser, got up from desk, turned over chair, dropped pencil, pulled crayons from desk, uptrighted chair, hummed, chatted to self, chatted to neighbor, sat in seat, hummed to self, tipped back chair, fell out of seat, played in desk…” you get the picture.  I thought to myself, “well that’s about average for a school day, isn’t it?”  I looked down at the bottom of the page and the time lapse was “2 minutes.”  It was the wake up call I needed.

Bryce started taking Concerta like his sister.  I cried a lot.  His school work improved.  I cried less often.  Then his teacher sent home a note saying she was concerned and asked for a meeting.  I braced myself.  But when I arrived it was just she and I and two tiny chairs.  We squeezed down into them and made our oversized rumps as comfortable as possible.  (No wonder the boy jumps out of this darned thing 20 times a day – it’s a torture device!).  She looked calmly and sweetly across at me and told me my son was having a change in thought and affect.  “He comes to my desk and tells me that he knows those boys and girls over there are talking about him and making fun of him.  They’re not, Mrs. Armstrong.  They’re involved in their board games.”  That scared the bejezus outta me.

We went back to the doctor.  We got a new prescription.  Things were much better, but not for long.  He got severe nosebleeds.  We went back to the doctor.  We got a new prescription and Bryce began having extreme mood swings.  We went back to the doctor.  After a few more tweaks we thought we were nearly there.  Then, we noticed Bryce was turning on his light almost every single night of the week.  From his second round of kindergarten until last week, he didn’t sleep a full night more than once per week.  This year, we’ve had a pretty good dialogue with his second grade teacher.  He’s on grade level, but still unable to sit still.  We’re working on the sleep issues, and we’ve gotten the intense mood swings under control, but we’re not there yet.

Earlier when I posted about my daughter, my brother responded that while he was driving around his home town, he came up behind a car with a bumper sticker that said, “Have you drugged your child today?” Graham said he wanted to ram the S.O.B.  I feel the same way, but that’s not quite my response.  If I ran into this individual I would want to say:
“Well, yes, as a matter of fact I have drugged my kids today!  I do it for my own convenience.   And frankly, its been a cake walk.  It’s been everything I dreamed it would be.  On the surface, I appear to be a loving parent, but deep down, I’m a selfish twit and I don’t love my kids.  I don’t care if they succeed or are happy.  I don’t care if they learn anything and I don’t care if your ideal child learns anything either – especially if my hyper kid keeps him from it.  Yes, I have drugged my kids today, thank you very much.  And may your children turn out as perfectly as you have.”

A Tale of Two Children: part I

Okay, so I drug my kids.  There.  I said it:  I drug my kids.  Heroine mostly, but it’s no big deal.
Actually, they take prescription medication to treat ADHD and sensory modulation disorder — but you aren’t judging me quite so harshly any more are you?

Or ARE you?  If I may offer a bit of perspective, let me be the first to say that I am constantly  judging myself for “drugging my kids.”  I don’t like it and my husband and I didn’t come to the decision easily.  Shall I tell you a story?  I thought you’d never ask. I think I’ll divide it into two posts.  First we’ll do the early years (Clarke) and under separate post so you don’t lose focus (pun intended) will be relative to our current work with Bryce.

Still my girl!

When my daughter went to kindergarten at a private school 9 years ago, I was aware she was a handful.  Those stupid stoplight reports they give the kids with a green for “good”, yellow for “not so much” and red for “break out the vodka” kept coming home with…lets say an average of orange most weeks.  So, I contacted the teacher and asked for a conference to talk things over with her.  Unbeknownst to me, I had apparently (all but) alerted social services.  When Frank & I went to the school to discuss issues with Mrs. Snarkey-pants, we were ushered into the principal’s  office where at the conference table sat not only the teacher, but the principal, vice principal, school counselor and possibly a rodeo clown.  I can’t remember the ambush too clearly.

As the behavior “issues” were outlined to us, we were peppered with questions about our home life, schedule, dietary habits, sex life and credit score.  Okay, they didn’t get as personal as asking our credit score…but the upshot was that they recommended I take her to the pediatrician for an evaluation.  I left the school in a puddle of tears feeling completely attacked and inadequate.  Clarke is my first child and after all, she is the test run, so I didn’t feel confident about my parenting to say the least  At the evaluation a few weeks later, the doctor, whom I will always love (Dr. Arnold Snitz) was kind and gentle.  He said to me in his delightful wisdom, “Well, she’s acting like a 5 year old, which is exactly how she should act.  Don’t worry about it.” Did I mention I love that man? That was the last kind word I heard about my daughter from an authority until she was in the fourth grade.  But I digress…

Although we moved to Concord and started public school, the behavioral issues continued.  Clarke’s second grade teacher told me she was not doing well in school and was unable to maintain friendships.  Well, why didn’t the firing squad at Kindergarten let me know it was impacting her social life??  THATS SERIOUS!   Long story short, we found ourselves with a new doctor who evaluated her and the paperwork sent by the teacher, myself and the school counselor and diagnosed her with ADD.  It was no small process and all the evidence pointed to the fact that I was a bad parent.  No amount of withholding TV, refusing to buy video games, eliminating sugar or banning soda had helped so it must have meant that I had failed.

Clarke practiced swallowing skittles whole to get ready for the first experience of taking the medicine.  She did just fine.  I was relieved.  But then the morning she had to actually take the concerta, it was a disaster.  She couldn’t swallow them and spit them out.  No amount of coaching or skittling could make it go down.  I shouted at her.  She cried, I cried.  Finally, I slammed the pill on the table in front of her, refilled the orange juice and left the room, telling her to take her time (but not too much because I was late for work).  As I suspected, without the specter of my looming tension, she was able to do it.  (Oh and by the way, that song about the “spoon full of sugar” is bull.  The girl practically gagged).

But things did eventually get better.  After weeks of bringing home “green lights” on the report card and finally making and keeping a friend, I realized everything was going to be okay.  But I tried to keep it as much to myself as possible because I still felt ashamed.  I still felt like a failure.  And heaven knows, parents who don’t drug their kids sure judge those of us who do.  But this wasn’t about me:  it was about Clarke and her success and her happiness.  She stopped hating school and started to become more confident.  She kept her joyful and delightful personality.  And now that she’s older, she seems to have settled down a little and needs the drugs less and less.  She’s going to be just fine and so am I.

So, there’s my confession – yes, world, I drug my kids.  I don’t like that I couldn’t make ADD go away with prayer, diet, exercise and self-loathing.  Powerlessness is not my thing, but surrender turned out to be.  I surrendered to the fact that sometimes, it takes more than me to solve a problem.