Oct 05 2010

Living with ADHD

Published by at 12:54 pm under amy's head,kids,likes & irks

James and I hold our breath every time Ethan seems to be in a “good stretch” — in behavior, in not getting into trouble, in getting his homework done, etc. It seems that everytime we feel like we can let out a sigh and relax a little bit, that is when things take a turn for the worse. We’ll get an email from his teacher, or there’ll be some altercation in the neighborhood, and it seems to spark off a hellish 4-6 weeks of sullen behavior, and/or reports of not doing work at school, and aggressiveness.

So it’s hard to actually breath that sigh of relief — knowing that in the past, right afterward usually comes the kick to the gut. But we tentatively are, and we’re making sure that Ethan knows how proud we are of all his hard work.

He is doing awesome in school. This year he has a male teacher, and Mr. A has been great. His special ed teacher is also male, and Ethan is really stepping up to take charge and be responsible for his work.

Last year we often had reports of Ethan just plain not doing work — instead he would crawl on the floor picking rocks out of people’s shoes, he would fiddle around on his chair and pick at his own fingernails (picking is huge with this boy) or just wouldn’t be able to focus on that page of work enough to get it done.

He did have an altercation on the bus the past week — dealing with some of the neighborhood boys is always fraught with peril. He does all right when it is just one or two, but our neighborhood has a LOT of young kids, and more normally it is a pack of boys running around, and when they get together they seem to gravitate to aggravating Ethan — which Ethan then gets very aggressive about, making wild threats and often resorting to violence. Which then leads to him being the first one they go to to aggravate. It’s not a fun cycle.

Overall though, we have had a fantastic start to school. Yesterday his Special Ed teacher (who works with him in his normal classroom, along with several other kids) emailed us to let us know that Ethan had another great day. I was at work, and after reading it, I actually teared up with joy. It’s nice to savor these moments, and I hope it lasts as LONG AS POSSIBLE.

Today I’m home sick with a not-acting-very-sick girl, and as she sits and watches Strawberry Shortcake, I was reading through my email and clicked a link to read an excerpt from “Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention” from Katherine Ellison, a memoir about her son’s battle with ADD. Her son Buzz was older than Ethan is now, but so many things sounded so familiar in this short excerpt that I had to leave the room, least Jocelyn look up from Strawberry to see her mom bawling with emotion.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me,

“Isn’t ADD/ADHD just boys being boys?”
“It’s because boys learn at a different pace then girls”
“sometimes learning disabilities are mistaken for ADD”
“young brains shouldn’t be drugged, they’re still developing!”
“so, when he’s on ADHD meds, doesn’t it make him less like himself?”
“adhd medications are a conspiracy by the medical professionals!”
“there is no such thing as ADHD, no really!”

I resisted medication our son for most of 1st grade, half believing all or at least some of the above myself. But finally, we reached our breaking point. It sounds like our breaking point whas not nearly as far as the poor author of this book and her son. There have been more times than I can count that both he and I have held on to each other and cried, just as at the end of the excerpt.

Please read this excerpt, go buy the book, try not to label the next boy you see as “a bad/mean kid”, and for GOD’S SAKE, don’t tell the parent putting their child on ADHD meds makes them a bad parent. ADHD is recognized as a actual neurological disorder, and it’s about time that myth was dispelled. ADHD medications have been in use for over 30 years and have been proven SAFE. Even for young developing minds.

We already have enough trouble convincing ourselves we’re not bad parents to hear it from you too.

I am going to be picking up this book TODAY and reading it every moment I can. In between taking Ethan to the child psychologist, and the child psychiatrist that is!


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