ADHD? Not My Kid!

Sitting facing the teacher for the umpteenth time, I was growing weary of her long litany. “Jack doesn’t sit in his seat. Jack doesn’t stay on task. Jack disrupts the other kids with his constant noise making. Jack doesn’t turn in completed work.”

This was hard to hear about my sweet 10 year old who loves to take things apart, wants to know what you are doing and why, and has a great imagination and is not afraid to use it. Why did I get the feeling that my square peg was expected to fit into a round hole? No exceptions.

My Exception

But he was an exception. We knew from the day we adopted him that there were going to be learning challenges. He was exposed to drugs and alcohol all his prenatal life. Though we got him right after he was born, much of the damage was already done.

We watched him grow and go to kindergarten. He was doing okay and we monitored sugar intake, red dyes and white flour. Reading was not coming along. But he was only in kindergarten. And a boy, which means development takes longer, right?

So we limped along until 2nd grade, when the reading and spelling issue was starting to glare. Along with some behavioral issues, like impulsiveness, low self control, and not quite fitting in. So we took the leap and had him tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD (girls have Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD).

The Test Results Were In

Both us and his teacher had to complete a checklist on behavior and academics. Hard to fit a kid into a checklist. But the results were borderline ADHD.

Options

The options were presented: 1st medication; 2nd stricter food regulation; 3rd creative behavior management. We opted for 2 and 3.

First, we had to learn what made him less focused. Noises in the classroom were a biggie. And in this day and age, classrooms are not the sit quietly type that I had. So how can we best manage that? We opted for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) so we could utilize out of room resources to help with tutoring, more individual attention, and less distractions due to the small classroom size in our Resource Room. Not perfect, but improvement was noted.

Next, we employed a new technique that we had heard through a naturopath by using caffeinated beverages in place of medication. This was less successful and the option was mostly diet soda. Not our first choice for a drink.

3rd grade saw some improvement in reading, but 4th grade, he crashed and burned. Thus our conversation with the teacher.

What Had Happened?

How did things go bad so quickly? The school’s Resource Room teacher enlightened me. Learning is global up until the end of 2nd grade, she explained. The teacher directs the kids through most of the exercise. Cues are easily picked up from what the other kids are doing. And teachers are more tolerant with this.

As they move through the elementary grades, they are taught to be more independent and only instructions are given from the teacher. Cues are less evident and teachers’ expectations for working independently are higher. He’d lost his crutch.

Now What?

I was baffled. Until the teacher said the one thing that forever changed my dogmatic stance against medication. “The constant hearing of his name in a negative fashion has got to be affecting his self esteem.” We had started to hear him say things like I am loser, I can’t do anything right, I am a horrible reader. I knew that we were at a turning point for him. We couldn’t not try everything to give this little guy success in his life.

Medication etal

So we dove in to the medical field. Because Jack had an IEP in place at school and behavior was part of it, we did not need to do any further assessments. We started him on the lowest dose of Concerta and upped it every 2 days until we saw his world come into focus for him. Though the doctor originally said to continue increasing the dosage until he started of having headaches and stomach aches, then go back a dose, we felt we had found his level without the side effects.

Don’t get me wrong, insomnia and loss of appetite are an occasional occurrence. And this isn’t a perfect fix. But the relief for him being able to complete something from start to finish is noticeable. Or read and comprehend more is exciting.

What else can we do?

But we didn’t stop there. His tapping his pencil and making noises are his mechanism for getting himself focused. We educated his teachers, including the Resource Room teacher, that he wasn’t doing this to be annoying. It was a coping mechanism. This can even be a cue that maybe a quieter environment for a test or project would best suit him.

We are also in the process of pursuing training for the school in how not to point out these kids (i.e. classroom meetings) and their weaknesses but to find a work around that will help them to be successful. Click here to read an article with some practical tips from Dr. Robert Myers, a clinical psychologist with 25 years of experience working with children and adolescents with ADHD and learning disabilities.

It’s not easy being a parent…

But nothing is! And what can be more rewarding then helping your child to succeed, through whatever means are necessary.

As you browse around this site, we hope you’ll find some effective parenting skills that will work for your family. As far as our family goes, we believe  The Total Transformation Program is the one tool that’s had the biggest impact on our household, but you need to find out for yourself. Click here to get it free for a limited time. Just order and then complete and return the enclosed Feedback survey.

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