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Posted by Denise on August 27, 2000 at 23:06:06:

For a long time my husband and I thought that our son had ADHD but after visits with a psychiatrist and much studying, we've learned that our son has a milder form of Asperger's syndrome.

I have endured 4 years of well-meaning friends and some teachers insisting that medication is the only way to help him. Deep inside my instinct told me not to choose the medication route too hastily.

When the symptoms began, our son was about 26 mos. old. He had violent temper tantrums, was out of control, impulsive, and was very distructive. He also had extreme separation anxiety. He was a perfectly sweet little boy before this. It seemed like the change happened almost over night. This has raised question as to whether this is coincidental or if it may have something to do with immunizations. I am interested on ideas and experiences in this.

When our son was age three, a friend, who had two children with a more extreme form Asperger's syndrome, told me that my son exhibited similar symptoms as her children. I looked at her older boys (age 8 and 10) and I couldn't imagine it. I accepted the literature she offered with reserve. These boys were living aboard the USS Interprise with Captain Kirk most of the time. Our son was living in reality to the point that he didn't enjoy make-believe. He couldn't comprehend things that weren't real.

Another friend, who's daughter has extreme ADHD insisted that our son had the same thing. I saw the difference in her daughter after being on medication. Yes, she could focus on one thing at a time but she wasn't sleeping, eating appropriately, and her eyes always looked sunken. I asked the pediatrician about the possibility of my son having ADHD and he said he felt that our son was a normal boy. In 15 minutes, he couldn't possibly understand what I was going through.

Our son was experiencing extreme mood changes, tried to injure his older and younger sister during rages, and could not be disciplined. I resorted to putting him in his room for a few minutes where he couldn't hurt his sisters or himself but the rage just intensified. I would tell him that he couldn't come out until he stopped screaming. Eventually, he damaged the door to his bedroom and I was tired of listening to screaming and holding the door shut. I tried holding him through rages. What a workout! I couldn't imagine what would make such a little boy so angry. He would tell me over and over through adrenalin-filled screams that he hates me. I felt many times that this boy, who was once the sweet angel I held in my arms and nursed, was not the same boy.

At four years old, while in preschool, our son underwent some tests. He was showing difficulty mingling with other children. He always wanted to do his own thing and chose not to play or interact with the other children. There were also some symptoms of ADHD. There was a certain point when instinct told me to not pursue testing any further. Deep down I knew that he could not be put on medication and furthering the tests would most likely result in this.

After much prayer and consideration, I approached my OB/Gyn and he agreed to put me on antidepressants. These helped enough to see my son through many difficult situations while keeping my cool and being able to think rationally.

After about 18 mos. of me being on medication, and modifying his diet to low sugar intake and less processed foods, our son seemed to taper off on his negative behavior a little. He had learned some control over his angry outbursts and he wasn't as impulsive. He is now 7 and is continually improving at a slow rate--without the help of meds.

Last year I enrolled our son in first grade. By the end of the year, his reading level was at middle to end of kindergarten level. He qualified for Resources for the learning disabled (I've decided that LD should not mean "Learning Disabled" but "Learning Different"). The school psychologist insisted that his problem was merely stemming from being depressed and I was treated as though I was the problem and that I should praise him more and things like that. Although I disagreed with her theory, I knew that his problems were a source of his lack of confidence and self-esteem so I allowed her to work with him on creating happy feelings about himself. But how long could I put up with her attitude that it was my fault and was she telling him that it was my fault? I went through the whole year trying to prove that I was a good mother by assuring that I was doing all that I could and taking advice as it came. But as a mother, I felt deep down that we weren't getting anywhere. How long until someone insisted that our son needed to be put on medication? I knew that I was just buying time. We went through a year of 2-3 complaints a week about his behavior. He had thrown a desk and thrown a chair out of frustration, he almost broke a finger of another child during play not realizing the seriousness of his act. Many times I drove home from his school in tears. You may ask why isn't he on medication? A mother has a God-given gift of instinct that she should follow, no matter what anyone else thinks she should do. This gift should be respected without explanation. A mother and father also have the obligation and challenge to love their child no matter what happens. I don't feel that it is any one's place to make a child more loveable but to make him feel loved.

Over the summer we have noticed that our son is now to the point that he is functioning well at home and at neighbor's homes. He plays well with the neighbor boys--even when there are two. With his sisters,I believe that he behaves as a normal boy would who has sisters. He picks on them and calls names but isn't trying to seriously hurt them. He has been hugging them and telling them that he loves them and has offered to help them. Before, he seemed jealous at any of their accomplishments and resented them for it. He would deliberately destroy something of sentimental value and when he heard my oldest reading once, he told her that she couldn't read and that she was stupid. When the youngest one colored a pretty picture, he told her that she drew like a baby and was stupid. I'm not hearing this any more. He isn't breaking precious things any more. There is still an obstical, he still has serious problems when amongst a group of children. He doesn't seem to know how to behave and becomes very stressed out. He bites on his clothing, contorts his body, makes obnoxious noises and faces, and cannot keep his hands to himself. If there isn't some intervention at this point, then he has a meltdown and is completely out of control. I knew that if I enrolled him in another year of school, there would be problems. I wasn't sure what I would do when he returned to school.

For a few weeks last year, I sat with him in school a couple of hours during the days his little sister was in pre-school to help him understand his school work so that he could complete it. When it was time for me to go, he panicked. His teacher thought it was because I was doing his work for him when in fact I wasn't. She politely let me know that she didn't think my idea was an effective one. Through my experience in helping him in school, I've learned that all he needs is one-on-one in a controlled environment.

After careful research, prayer, and ponder, I decided to homeschool our son. We've just completed one week of homeschool and he's done more work than he would've in almost 2 weeks of school. He's already showing significant improvement in confidence and self-esteem.

At first, I felt so overwhelmed at the concept of homeschooling but after a week I am very eager to participate in this most precious time in his life. I am thrilled at the thought of having a closer relationship with him. Not only do I have control over the way he learns I am excited that I can have ultimate control over the foods and snacks that he receives. At school there are always opportunities to receive high sugar-containing foods and anything homemade is out of the question. These things aggravate his behavior problems.

Many have said that my son needs the social experience that public school can provide. I see that the school social experience has been negative for him. Maybe he'll be ready later, maybe not.

When I approached his school about my decision to homeschool, I was afraid. I was suprised at the supportiveness they have exhibited. I can include our son in computer classes (which he loves), field trips, talent shows, assemblies, art, sharing time, etc. And they assured me that if homeschool didn't work out there would be no problem getting him back in.

Now that I am homeschooling our son, it doesn't matter any more what his disability is. We just work with it at his pace and just simply love him for who he is and what he can become not for what we can make him.

When I was browsing a search engine on the topic of homeschooling children with special needs, I ran across a very informative website: http://members.tripod.com/~Maaja/index.htm

You don't have to homeschool in order to receive helpful information from this site. There's a lot of stuff. Since I have an open mind, this particular section caught my eye and raised question:

• The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses (a booklet by child-advocate, John Breeding who speaks out against using drugs to manage active children.)

I am interested in knowing if there is anyone that has taken Dexidrine, Adderol, Paxil, Prozac, Ritalin, etc. that has personally experienced violent side affects while taking the medication that weren't present before taking the medication. Also, how have you felt when you have missed a dose or ran out?

Thanks,
Denise

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