Jan 24 2009

Ethan Update

Published by at 2:12 pm under amy's head,kids

I haven’t updated on Ethan in quite some time (except for my cryptic twitters), and so it’s about time I did so.

He has been going to a weekly “Social Achievers” class at the counseling center for about 2 months now (big gaps for the holidays) and each time, they’ve said he has really struggled with it – giving attitude and fighting the redirecting they’ve done. The last few times have been better though, with less attitude and more cooperation.

In the meantime, he was tested by a psychologist in the same center for ADD/ADHD in mid-November, and before we received the results of that testing, the school asked us to come in for a child study. This was in early/mid December.

The child study went well. “Well” being defined as my ability to hold it together and not be too devastated by what was discussed! Also defined by the sensitivity and obvious compassion those involved displayed for my son. His teacher, the vice principal, the reading specialist and the school’s psychologist were present at the meeting, as well as James and I. We went over areas that he shows strength (science, math) and areas that he is weak on (reading) and his behaviour throughout everything. Even though he is struggling in reading, he loves nothing more than to sit with a book or be read aloud to.

His teacher and the reading specialist have worked out a system of rewards for good behaviour, when he is on task and staying focused he will get to color in part of a space shuttle. When he has colored a certain number of pieces he gets a bigger prize, such as lunch with his teacher, extra time in an activity he loves, lunch in the classroom with a fellow classmate, etc. His teacher also has been charting how often he is on task, with the goal that he stays on task 70% of the time. This means that she marks down how he is doing every ten minutes throughout the day. She also keeps James and I appraised of how his day went with an email home at the end of each day. I can’t tell you how blown away I am by the school, his teacher, and the administrative staff. I am so grateful that they have been so open and helpful and truly concerned about helping him be the best student he can be.

After discussing Ethan in great detail, they basically said that we can just continue as we have been, and have another meeting in the spring to see how he is doing, or we could start testing to see if there is more going on that we don’t know. We opted to start testing. They will test for a wide spectrum of items and hopefully it will give us a bigger picture and more insight into how we can help him.

In the meantime, right before the holidays I received a few voice mails from the psychologist who did his testing at the counseling center, and after playing phone tag, got a meeting set up to go over the results. We met with her last week, and she has diagnosed him with ADHD with a recommendation for a psychiatric consultation for medication.

I don’t know if it’s because of some of the possibilities that were tossed around in the school meeting (Asberger’s was one) that totally freaked me out and made ADHD a walk in the park by comparison, but I took this news very well, although it was exactly what I had been dreading. I am totally freaked out at the possibility of giving my SIX YEAR OLD a DAILY medication. (Totally. Completely. Did I mention I’m totally freaked out? LIke, WAY FREAKED OUT. A medication EVERY DAY. That will screw up WHO KNOWS WHAT as a side effect. Just want to be clear here! Me = FREAKED.)

From what I’ve read, ADHD can be a pretty subjective diagnosis. But I can’t avoid the fact that Ethan definitely has some problems that points pretty clearly to ADHD. I am not fighting this diagnosis, I just want to make sure that the help we give him will be the best for him, his health, and his physiological well being. I’ve talked to a few friends whose kids do use medication, and heard their stories. I’ve talked to my sister who has kids with ADHD and does not medicate. I am definitely more open to medication THAN I WAS before the holidays, but I honestly don’t feel the rush to make a decision RIGHT NOW.

However, what we are going to do RIGHT NOW, is get him in to see a psychiatrist. I’ve always felt like what we’re doing for him now is not right, or rather, not enough. I think he would benefit with one on one sessions, and I think James and I would benefit as well – part of the reason I don’t like what’s going on now is it gives James and I no feedback with how we should be doing things. When he acts impulsively or throws a tantrum, or comes home from school with a report of a bad day – are we handling it adequately? Is there something we could be doing better? I feel like we could use someone to help us with ideas on the homefront that we can employ in specific situations. I mentioned this once to the counselor who runs his class, and I think she thought I was playing a “But I’m such a BAD PARENT!” sympathy bit or something and told me I’m not a bad parent, I’m doing fine.

But I didn’t say I was a bad parent – and I don’t think we are bad parents. I don’t have to be a bad parent to want better parenting skills and skills to help Ethan cope better, not to mention, skills to help ME COPE BETTER. I think some one on one sessions well help Ethan, but also help us, and after a psychiatrist knows him and has worked with him a bit, I’ll be interested to see what their opinion on medication is.

So, once again, I’ve looked around for a new psychiatrist/clinic we can switch him too and once again I keep looking at this clinic that was recommended to us and moaning that they aren’t in our insurance. I called to get their self-pay rates, and even though we would be reinbursed 50% for out of network providers, AND we pushed our medical flexible spending account sky high for this year, it would be tough to say goodbye to that much money. The office staff person actually had one of the doctors call me back and after talking with her for a minute, she recommended some other psychiatrists in the area – one of which I had actually looked up after finding him on the insurance website’s network of providers. Relieved, I called this clinic and set up an appointment.

So right now, we’re kind of in a wait and see mode. Wait and see how it goes with the psychiatrist. Continue taking him to his social achiever’s class until we see the doctor. Wait and see what the school testing results looks like.

Since this is getting pretty long, I’m going to write more about Ethan himself tomorrow, lest I kill anyone with all these words!

-amy

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