Methods of Undistractability

Everyone has their own doubts about little things in their kids’ lives.

About whether they’re doing the right thing or just completely screwing everything up for the rest of their child’s natural life. Or whether the decisions they make are necessarily the best or the most conducive to solving whatever problem there may be.

I spend my day-to-day second-guessing myself about everything. It’s not that I necessarily think I’m doing everything wrong (but what if I am?); it’s just that I don’t know for sure if I’m doing anything right.

The huge storm cloud circling our household these days is that of the ever-controversial ADHD medication. Jeff and I seem to be on the same page. Others? Not so much. We’ve filled out the surveys. We’ve sat on pins and needles waiting for the doctor to get back to us. We’ve watched helplessly as our 6 year old gets himself in trouble nearly 3 out of 5 days of the week at school (and nearly every night at home) due to his impulsivity and inability to sit still.

His teacher is calling me because, for the majority of lessons, he is fidgeting, squirming or otherwise not paying attention. He’s talking while she talks. He’s playing with pencils and erasers. He’s blurting out answers.. or completely random material. He’s playing under his desk. He’s distracting other children.

In the 40 minute observation done by the school child psychologist, this is what was found:

“Donovan was observed this afternoon during class instruction and reading time. It was noted that he significantly differed from peers in on-task behavior during the observation. His behaviors indicated that overall he had a difficult time paying attention or listening to the teacher during class discussions and instruction. Using a thirty-second interval method, Donovan was found to be on-task for an average of approximately 37 percent of the time compared to 80 percent for his peers. Teacher redirection was noted nine times and Donovan shouted out without being called upon 37 times. He was also noted to be out of his seat three times. It is important to note that this observation represents only a small portion of the school day and teacher reports of his current functioning may be utilized to provide a more accurate picture of his behaviors in the school setting.”

He blurted out thirty-seven times in 40 minutes? That’s almost once every minute! His teacher informed me that right as the psychologist entered the classroom, Donovan stood up, spun around three times and sat back down. She also let me know that she didn’t redirect as often as she normally would because she wanted the psychologist to be able to get an accurate picture of his behavior.

Other issues? He seems to have a certain amount of social anxiety, which we seem to be the only ones aware of since he is so incredibly outspoken in class. I attribute it to the “Class Clown” syndrome; he’s trying to make other kids laugh by acting out because if they laugh at his antics, then it means, in his mind, that they like him. Since the teacher has moved his seat to place him next to people not amused by these antics, he has sometimes opted for pacing the back of the classroom during lessons, though this doesn’t mean the antics have stopped.

He also is an extremely emotional child. Things that normally wouldn’t be cause for concern can ultimately destroy his entire day. Case in point: we’ve been trying to get him to drink more fluids because, literally, he will go an entire day without drinking anything more than 2-3 ounces of milk. “He’ll drink when he’s thirsty” can only go so far… it isn’t healthy. So we let him pick out some juice at the grocery store, which turned out to be an 8 pack of Sunny Delight in 6.75oz bottles. When we gave him one with his lunch on Saturday, he took one drink from it. So we told him that he needed to finish it before he could get up from the table since he had had nothing to drink up until this point. An hour long sobbing session at the dining room table ensued. Over juice.

At any rate, after the classroom observation, I started reading on the symptoms of ADHD and was a little shocked at how many of them are perfectly descriptive of Donovan’s behavior, so after our surveys had been analyzed by the doctor, we discussed and sat on it for a week, then finally opted to start medication. We weren’t given options or anything like that, just told to come in and pick up the written prescription for 5mg of Focalin XR. I picked it up and started doing more reading. Imagine my surprise when I found out that early onset bipolar disorder can have almost the exact symptoms that ADHD has!

This normally wouldn’t have been a concern, but there’s family history of bipolar disorder (aka manic depression), which our doctor even asked us about as we were describing his behaviors. Why this was never pursued further, I don’t know, since everything I have seen points out that bipolar disorder should be completely ruled out before making an ADHD diagnosis or starting ADHD medications as the stimulants “can have an adverse effect on the bipolar condition.”

That being said, the Focalin was started this morning. I’m terrified about whether we made the right decision. I know that if we find he’s beginning to exhibit any signs or symptoms or adverse side effects, we can stop the medication and take him in for re-evaluation. I know we’re not causing some sort of permanent, horrible damage. I know we have his best interests at heart and are just trying to help him.

I just wish, for his sake, that we knew for sure what the problem truly was and what to do to fix it.

I hate this sort of trial and error where my kid is concerned.. and I hate that he is sometimes so miserable because of all this.

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About Caitlin's Concepts

Mom to 4 boys and drowning in a sea of testosterone!
This entry was posted in My Babies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Methods of Undistractability

  1. Shell says:

    It sounds like you are really taking this seriously and trying your best to do the right thing for him- that is all we can do as mamas.

  2. Jessica says:

    So hard, I am a terrible decision maker and when it comes to my kids and things that matter so much? I am even worse. It sounds like you are taking your time and thinking things through and if this doesn’t go well you will be back to the drawing board to figure out what works. You can’t do much better than that! Hang in there.

  3. Leighann says:

    Oh my heart goes out to you.
    I wish there was an answer that would make your little boy sit during class.
    I have a friend who has been experiencing the exact same things with her 7 yr old. It has been going on since he was 5.
    A mommy knows! Follow your instincts. You are doing this because you love him and it’s normal to question.

  4. Angelica says:

    My son was recently put on Adderall XR. Even with all my pharmacy knowledge, my husband & I were against it. All of his life, his teachers practically begged us to put him on something. “Have you talked with his Dr” Duh! “He lacks FOCUS” (They repeated that statement so much, always emphasizing the word FOCUS) He is autistic, very high functioning end of the spectrum so, duh, he will lack focus at the least. He continued to keep his grades at A’s & B’s, so I knew it was more about the staff not wanting to deal with his talking out of turn or random blurt outs about unrelated subjects. This year, his grades dropped dramatically and he was more negative than ever, saying stuff like “stupid me” and even asked me if he is bi-polar! Guess I felt it was finally time, he’s 14 & in 8th grade. It’s only been a week & I don’t give it to him on weekends. He says he feels warm & fuzzy, lol. He notices that it does help him focus more at school but at home, he seems to “space out” more than usual, which is actually a lot for him because of the autism, I’m used to it. He is learning about drugs at school & asked me if there is any Meth in his medication because the symptoms of smoking meth were the same as he felt while taking the med. Wow. I felt so low. I had to be honest & tell him that his med is somewhat like meth & explained the difference. I’m going to call his school today & ask if they notice improvement. If not then he’s going off it, I don’t want him to get higher doses. We may try Strattera, a non stimulant. Ugh, I feel so guilty for treating him like a guinea pig. I signed up for my own blog here, thinking that was the only way i could comment on yours but maybe i should actually use it to blog about this. Hope all goes well with your kiddo. You are a great mama & that’s all he really needs. Just gotta roll with the punches I guess. Luv U!

    • You should DEFINITELY start a blog, Angelica! I’d certainly be more than happy to send readers your way that would be able to offer support and encouragement. =)

      I know what you mean about the guinea pig thing. Obviously it’s a long shot in the dark that the first med tried will be the right one; it took them 10 years to find the right one for my oldest! It’s just so aggravating sometimes that there isn’t an Easy button for parenting! My oldest was held back a grade for his “lack of focus,” which translates into “lack of grades” because he just wouldn’t put any extra effort into anything that wasn’t video game related. 😉

      At any rate, I just question whether I should have pushed the bipolar issue or just hang tight until we see if this med works, or makes it worse, or something. I also have no idea how long it would take for anyone to see any noticeable improvement. Obviously it isn’t as immediate as Ritalin because yesterday was not a good day at school. =\

  5. Stephanie says:

    I read your blog and it almost made me cry. My son is also 6, and also in almost the exact same situation. He has the same kinds of disruptive “silly” behaviors and over-sensitivity as you are describing. We have had him on FocalinXR since the beginning of the school year,and it has helped, but we have changed the dose several times, up and down, and it feels like we can’t get it right. It is so hard to watch your child struggle and feel like you cannot fix it for him. I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I appreciate knowing I am not alone, so I hope it helps you to know that there are others out there who can relate to you. I wish you the best of luck:)

  6. I hope he had a good day. It is really great to give him the opportunity to find something that will help him.

  7. Jack says:

    If a parent tells me that they never questions their parenting/decisions I worry about them.

  8. bobbijaye says:

    Stopping by from TRDC.

    You’re involved, you care, and you acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers. It’s all you can do, and the best you can do.

    I was a kid who could have really benefitted from an SSRI early in life to treat my OCD. When I decided myself to go on medication at 17, my dad was completely against it. He was more concerned with the label it would give me than with whether it would help. (It did.) Kudos to you for making a decision based on what you think is best for your child!

    Bobbi

    • Thank you for this comment.. it really means more than I think you know to hear someone else say that. Especially someone who wishes that medication had been an option for them early on. I’m not looking for an easy fix.. just a way to make things a little easier on him. Sure, I feel badly for the teacher sometimes (what mother doesn’t? haha), but it’s about a lot more than the assumptions I’ve gotten that we/she just don’t/doesn’t want to “deal” with his hyperactivity. It’s his education and, essentially, his social well-being that are going to suffer as well. That I don’t want.

  9. Anastasia says:

    I think you are doing what you can. We have the same emotional problem with our four year old. Her pants fit “Weird” and it’s 45 minutes of her throwing a full on fit. Or some other thing that shouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s hard, I wonder if there’s something up with her, or something wrong with our parenting. sigh.

    I think you guys are doing what you can with what you have, Hopefully the medication calms him down enough to learn coping skills so he can be taken off and be just fine. That’s the point of it. I think you are doing a great job and I just “met” you.

    • Thank you! It’s so hard to define the lines between what we, as parents, need to change and what we should be expecting our children to change. I think part of me will always wonder if there was something we could have done differently to avoid all of this.

      As for you? I hear girls are generally more dramatic than boys (not that I would know 😉 ).. so maybe (hopefully?) it’s just a phase. Best of luck!

  10. Sue says:

    I’m a former teacher and have many children with ADHD in my classes over the years. It’s such a complex thing. You and your husband ARE doing the right thing by doing your own research, asking questions, working with your son’s teachers and doctors, advocating for him, and most importantly, following your heart. There’s no way you can get it wrong when you’re going about it as you do. Kudos, mama.

    • Thank you for this.. It’s so hard to feel like we’re being pushed and pulled in different directions as to whether we’re doing the right thing in pursuing the medications. But, ironically enough, all of the people opposed to it? Aren’t in his life on a daily basis and have no idea what we actually are dealing with.. it’s just not that simple. In a lot of ways, I feel like we’re just on our own because the fundamental support group isn’t there for us, if that makes sense.

  11. MamaRobinJ says:

    Doing some catch-up reading… This sounds so tough. I have a highly spirited kid and I see this sort of thing in our future. I don’t want to panic unnecessarily or prejudge the situation, but it makes me nervous.

    In any case, I think you’re doing the exact right thing and all you can do it keep looking at options and trying to help him.

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