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.