There have been many times when I have questioned whether we have taken the right path where Donovan is concerned. I have never once settled into the idea that it’s just ADHD and that the medications will magically fix everything.
I have been in continuous contact with his teacher, discussing his different behaviors during class time.
I have spent hours reading site after site of material and checklist after checklist of symptoms.
I have checked out books on both childhood bipolar disorder and ADHD and compared the stories of other parents to my own.
He has been on a 10mg dose of Focalin XR for a little over a month (which was preceded by a 5mg dose that may as well have been placebo it was such a low dose), which is an extended release medication he takes with breakfast that wears off later in the day.
His teacher says she has noticed no change in him. That he is still overly talkative at inappropriate times, still has the same silly behaviors and still isn’t, in essence, living up to the potential she believes he has if only he could just focus on the things he needs to.
The following is what I have noticed:
- He doesn’t seem to eat too much for lunch, but he eats like a horse 90% of the time for dinner and then again at breakfast the following morning (he has, in fact, gained 2 pounds since being on the medication).
- He’s more focused doing his homework after school and has improved in reading (when he wants to do it). Whether this is because he is too tired at that moment to fidget and fiddle and otherwise try to postpone the inevitability of homework, I can’t say.
- His behavior at school (monitored in 3 separate time periods by a point system) seems to decline somewhere in the afternoon hours, ie, when the medication would be wearing off.
- He has less patience in the evenings and gets more aggressive with Braeden because of that. He also tends to kick/throw/yell more often. Again, this could be fatigue. I don’t know.
- Crying episodes that seem to emerge out of anger rather than sadness are more frequent (almost every night for nearly 2 weeks at the beginning; now he seems to catch himself most times as he’s on the brink).
- On weekends, he seems to crash off the med around noon (and he takes it a good four hours later on weekends because he sleeps much later than he used to, logging about 12-13 hours per night), which has led to him falling asleep riding underneath the shopping carts while we got groceries 3 out of the past 4 weeks.
My focus right now is the nighttime aggression because it seems to be mainly directed at a child too young to either defend himself or properly vocalize to an adult most times what has happened. He’s been warned several times when it comes to hitting him and was told the last time (when he bit Braeden in the shoulder for no apparent reason) that if he did anything to him again, he would lose his video games for a month. And, yes, I’m well aware that Braeden antagonizes him at times and also has problems with hitting, so he has also been warned not to hit back, but to come and tell an adult what has happened so that we can deal with it.
Which brings us to Thursday night. They were playing with a small super-bounce ball, taking turns nicely bouncing it around the house and chasing it. I happened to turn around just in time to see Braeden come running around the coffee table, with Donovan running right behind him when he reached out and smacked Braeden in the back of the neck. And not in a “Tag, You’re It” type of way. I know, I know, brothers will be brothers and all that jazz, but it gets taken entirely too far around here if it isn’t dealt with immediately.
“Hey!” I yelled (this was my controlled yell, not my “I’ve lost it” yell, so it was low and stern). “I saw that.”
Immediately, his face shut down. It does every time he gets caught doing something or every time he doesn’t get his way. And it isn’t the normal kid-pout look. It’s just pure anger and it means you’ll be lucky to get more than a grunt out of him as an answer for anything.
He finally said that the reason he had hit Braeden was because Braeden got to the ball before he did and he wanted it. Ohhkay.. not exactly a great reason to knock a 2 year old from behind (like there’s ever a “great” reason?), but at least we managed to get a reason this time other than a shoulder shrug and a mumbled “I don’t know” before he bursts into tears.
As soon as Dad found out what happened, he got a box and began piling games into it, along with the PS2 itself and all the controllers for both consoles.
Donovan dropped to the floor between the couch and coffee table and began the hysterical, full-on sobbing he is known for when he melts down.
“No,” I said calmly. “Stop crying. Get up and come with me.”
He stood slowly, still crying. “Why?”
“I’m not yelling at you, Donovan. We’re going to talk. Come on.”
He followed me into the bedroom, where we spent the next 30 minutes having probably one of the most in-depth and heartbreaking conversations a parent could have with their young child…