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Old 02-09-2004, 11:19 AM   #1
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Sometimes it's necessary

I've been reading this message board for some time now and it has provided me with a lot of information. I hope, however, that parents are making decisions that are in the best interest of their own child, not merely following advice from those who choose to frequently post here. We, parents, visit these sites for information and to learn what to expect. Hopefully we can communicate with others who have experienced similar circumstances. I find it very useful to hear about what action was taken and how things are going.

I have a 9 year old son who is struggling with ADD-Inattentive Type. He is not afflicted with hyperactivity, at least not outwardly. He is a bright boy who was always able to "go with the flow" until it became necessary for him to "produce." His mind was always in the present, and that worked fine in Kindergarten and first grade, but slowly over the course of second grade, he was expected to organize himself. He was incapable of doing this. He picked up reading quickly, but couldn't follow chapter books because he lost the "hook" a minute after he put the book down. He was able to figure out math problems quickly, but he hit the wall when he had to memorize more difficult math facts. He could do 5-3 in his head, but 17-8 was foreign to him. He couldn't focus long enough to commit it to memory. His handwriting was horrible because he rushed to get the thought down before he forgot it. As we proceeded through 3rd grade, his self esteem began to suffer because it was obvious that he just couldn't do what was expected of him. He clearly wanted to please his father and me, as well as his teachers, be he didn't know what to do. He would write apologies on the top of tests. It broke my heart.

I tried everything over the course of 2nd and 3rd grade. I modified his diet to increase protein and limit sugar. I limited artificial ingredients. I gave him dietary supplements. I tried different types of behavior modification. We had reward charts with weekly goals. We tried negative consequences as well as positive (at different times). Everything would work a little, for a little while, but there were no sustained improvements. I suspect that when we raised his anxiety level, some endorphin (or adrenaline) would provide some temporary improvement, but he would always fall back. It broke my heart, and his teachers hearts, to watch. He would pound his desk and cry in frustration.

In spite of all the negative press, I agreed to a trial month of Adderall. I am so happy that I did. The very first day, we could read his handwriting. He could slow down and take his time and not forget what he wanted to say. He was able to organize his desk and complete his assignments as they occurred. He wasn't behind any more. He use to struggle to write a one page story, now he can rattle off 7 pages. His teacher says that he went from being a frustrated, sad boy to a happy child who willingly participates in class discussions. His teacher tells me that the difference is night and day. He's my happy child again. He is as happy as when he was "winging it" in Kindergarten.

I asked him what he thinks the difference is and he explained it very eloquently. He said "before the teacher would put up the assignments and I would think that there's no way that I'm going to get that done. Now I think, no big deal, I'll get it done." I did not tell him what to expect. This relevation came from his 9 year old brain. He even knows when he needs his meds. One day he woke up on a Saturday and tried to practice his piano lessons. After five minutes of being all over the place, he came out and said "I need my medicine." A half hour later he was fine. It is like he is living in a cloud of random thoughts and the medication allows him to slow down and organize those thoughts.

This has most definitly been the most difficult decision that I have had to make. I am a high school teacher and I deal with ADD everyday. I know what happens when harm is done to self esteem. I just couldn't let that happen to my son. I have no idea how long we will stay on this medication, I can just say that I am extremely happy that I agreed to let him try the medication.

I hope that my experience helps someone in similar circumstances. I was hesitant to try the medicine myself, but I can say from experience that sometimes it is necessary.

 
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Old 02-09-2004, 12:21 PM   #2
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Dear Happy Again,

Thank you so much for your sharing your experience. It was beautifully written and, obviously, came from the heart.

Our experience with ADD has been somewhat similiar to yours although I, unfortunately, was slower coming to acceptance first of my kids' diagnoses and then to treatment. In fact, we're still struggling with it.

My 13yo has been severely ADHD (heavy on the H) since birth. I wasn't convinced of the validity of ADD when he was young. It's against district policy here for teachers to suggest an evaluation so it took me longer than it otherwise might have to come to that conclusion. Then we did years of all the treatments that you tried which only served to increase my son's anxiety, too. Because he's also had tics, we are only now trying the stimulants for him. We're very gradually increasing the dose and are finally beginning to see definitive results. Unfortunately, the damage to his self-esteem has been immense; I'm concerned that it's irreparable.

We still struggle with our younger son who is now 10. He has inattentive ADD without the hyperactivity. Because he's so much more mildly affected than his big brother, we aren't yet comfortable with medicating him. In fact, I'm still having trouble convincing Dad that he does have ADD - much less, that he would do better with medication.

It's difficult. It's hard to know what to do. And then, as if that wasn't enough, you have to fight the schools for every little accomodation and deal with those who sit in judgement of your decisions.

Thanks for letting me indulge myself in a pity party. And, thanks again for sharing with us.

Last edited by index.html; 02-09-2004 at 06:24 PM.

 
Old 02-09-2004, 01:49 PM   #3
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I do however have a question, looking back, would you have had your ds evaluated and started treatment in kindergarten? We are stuggling with how to approach a situation with my son and kind of feel like -- if it's not broke yet, why fix it?

skatrmom

 
Old 02-09-2004, 03:02 PM   #4
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Quote:
Originally Posted by skatrmom
looking back, would you have had your ds evaluated and started treatment in kindergarten?
Well, I'll give you my opinion and then maybe Happy Again will give you hers... If I had it to do over, there are definitely some things I'd change. If I had just known earlier that my ADHD son couldn't help alot of the things he did, I would have been so much kinder and more patient with him. I would have gotten modifications sooner for him in school. Because of his tics and my fears about medication, though, I can't honestly say whether or not I would have medicated him sooner.

I've been reading your thread "Benefits of Diagnosis". Your situation is VERY different from mine. First and foremost, what I would say to you is this: Trust Your Instincts! As his Mom, you know your child far better than anyone else.

I'm curious about one thing. Did your son's preschool teachers ever indicate that he seemed to have more trouble than his peers? Here's the reason I ask. I personally believe that, as a group, there's probably no-one more qualified to tell us if our kids' behavior falls outside of the realm of typical than teachers. Given the number of kids that they see and the number of hours a day that they spend with them, I pretty much consider teachers to be experts (and, no, I'm not one).

HOWEVER, if it's only one teacher who has the opinion that your son might have ADD then I think you have reason to be skeptical. ADD, by definition, must affect an individual's ability to function in more than one aspect of their life. How is he at home? Can he follow directions like "do A, B, and C and then we'll do something fun?" You've already said he gets along well with other kids. Does he go to Sunday school or any other situation that requires some attention on his part? If so, how does he function there?

If the only place he seems to have trouble is with this one teacher, then my advice is make note of it, but don't worry about it. See how he does next year with a different teacher. As someone suggested, you might want to do some more reading on the subject.

I agree that there's no reason to fix something that ain't broke. Just keep your eyes open so that you can intervene more quickly than I did if he starts having trouble. That's my 2 cents....

 
Old 02-09-2004, 04:48 PM   #5
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Ok, first I just want to note that I've never really posted to message boards before....this is great! I think my husband is sick of me digging for stuff and my family thinks that I should just tell the teachers to go jump so this is great outlet.

Your question about preschool teachers is interesting for us. For 3yr preschool he went to a "fun" preschool group where it was very free-spirited and kids were able learn by doing. He was part of the group very outgoing and the teachers said he did great - again, not much to go on for 1 1/2 hr of play time, 2x per week.

Then for 4yr dh and I decided to send him to something more structured to prep him for kindergarten and also to see if he could handle it because he would be on the younger scale going into school. His teacher was an older woman in her sixties and from the beginning I knew it was not going to work out. At this preschool, you would drive your car up to the door and their teacher would then assist them out of the car and escort them in. I noticed after the second week that whenever she saw my little guy, she suddenly had a sourpuss on her face. I told my husband and he thought I was just being over-sensitive. Ready for the best part????

At our first p/t conference she went over his "report card" and he was doing well but then she went on to say that he doesn't listen in class. When I asked for an example she said that he's disruptive and always has to say something. If she would say they we are going to talk about the days of the week, he'd interject "I have an idea, why don't we talk about lizards!" Well, this put her over the edge and in our conference she told me that he was "annoying" and "over-confident." YES, you read that correctly! After a frank conversation with the preschool director, we then had his teacher changed and his new teacher was great. I consulted her a lot about the decision to send him to kindergarten and she thought that he was ready academically, socially and maturity wise so off he went.

So, when his k teacher first sent the ADD worksheet home I thought she was going to tell us that he was disruptive, talking too much, etc. Turns out he's daydreaming...not paying attention, etc.

I am very open to learning more about ADD (why I am here) and to see if there's something that I can do to help my ds. But as I delve into things more I continue to question what I am helping him with ultimately? Really, all he needs "help" with is keeping his "eyes" on the teacher. He's obviously listening, making friends and most importantly HAPPY.

With that said, there are things I do question though. He's really creative and I noticed that this is a trait many children and adults with AD/HD have. He can sit for sometimes two hours creating amazing "things" with legos and Knex some of the instruction booklets are up to 25 - 30 pages long. I read somewhere that sometimes kids with ADD can "hyperfocus?"

Anyway, thanks again for letting me babble. Your input and sharing your experience is so appreciated.

Skatrmom

 
Old 02-09-2004, 05:17 PM   #6
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Skatrmom, I think you've unknowingly given us another example of how smart your little guy is. And that is, between the ages of 4 & 5, he learned that when he was bored, it was "okay" to daydream and "not okay" to suggest more interesting topics of conversation. Pretty smart for a kid that age to figure it out (but a little sad that our schools require it, I think).

Yes, ADD kids can overfocus. Quite often, you see this with electronics. That's why you'll quite often hear parents say "My child can't possibly have ADD; he plays video games for hours". Anyone can focus on things that they're really interested in. The key is how well we can MAKE ourselves focus on things that are less interesting.

My advise is :
1) trust your instincts
2) file this teacher's opinion in a corner of your mind. Don't discard it, but don't let it override what you believe.
3) check into the gifted & talented program at your child's school.

Good luck!

 
Old 02-09-2004, 09:46 PM   #7
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Quote:
Originally Posted by skatrmom
So, when his k teacher first sent the ADD worksheet home I thought she was going to tell us that he was disruptive, talking too much, etc. Turns out he's daydreaming...not paying attention, etc.

Skatrmom

You said that your son apears to be daydreaming but always knows whats going on. If he always knows whats going on HE IS NOT DAYDREAMING!!!. This is very important, ADD is a problem because kids miss out on things, if he isnt missing out theres no way its ADD. Sounds to me like he is a healthy active creative happy kid. Ive yet to hear you mention something that makes him sound ADD. I think he is bored with the teacher, and there are probably some personality conflicts there. Kids mature a lot in a small amount of time, right now he is a bit young, so he should be expected to be less mature than others his age.

Does ADD run in your family?

I think you should have his IQ tested, also read up on learning styles "How to learn anything quickly" is a great book, not sure of the author but Im sure if you looked you can find it. As myself and others have mentioned ADD would effect him in other areas than school. Your son does great socially, this is definantly not a common trait of the inattentive ADDer. Many have real trouble making friends because they simply cannot understand social ques.
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Old 02-10-2004, 06:32 AM   #8
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Someone asked if I wish that I had started treatment sooner. The answer is yes, I wish I could have known that the meds were going to be successful, but I don't think that, practically, I could have done it any differently. As I said in my first post, we didn't have any problem with hyperactivity, so things only got bad for my son in second grade. He was able to "wing it" in first grade using his abilities. It was only when he was expected to organize himself and plan and memorize and follow stories from one day to the next that his condition became apparent. I was reluctant to jump into medication, so I had to try everything else first. In retrospect, my son had to go through a lot of anguish as we figured everything out. I would give anything to have spared him of that pain. BUT - I do believe that we needed to try the other methods to rule out other causes of his symptoms. I am thrilled about our success and very relieved that we have a tool that alleviates his difficulties, but I don't believe that there was a short cut to this conclusion. If I had the benefit of hindsight, I wish that he had been medicated during second grade. But I don't think that we could have gotten there by then. He basically just went through the motions during second grade and didn't "learn" anything. However, with the help of a tutor, he is making up that lost ground now. His confidence is growing everyday and I am so happy that he is able to experience success. I actually had tears in my eyes during our last parent/teacher conference. She had nothing but compliments for him and you could see how proud he was.

Again, it was a difficult journey to this point, but I don't think that there are any short cuts. I definitely would not have medicated him for Kindergarten or first grade, but if I had the benefit of hindsight second grade would have been nice. This is really the grade that sets their academic course.

Good luck to all. I know how difficult these decisions are.

 
Old 02-10-2004, 06:46 AM   #9
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Very well said, Happy Again!

I'm glad you've decided to take part in the board!

 
Old 02-11-2004, 08:49 PM   #10
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

I also wanted to thank Happy Again for her post. I have been trying to figure out a way to help my son without using meds since he was 3 1/2 yrs old. He is now 5 1/2 and in Kindergarten and I feel like we have done everything else at this point and nothing has worked. I really didnt want to put him on meds (we did try some when he was 4 but didnt like them so took him off them) but so far we haven't gotten anywhere and he is really suffering in school. We tried the diet (just recently) which I did not see any changes what-so-ever (on it for about 4 weeks), behavior modification, rewards, omega-3, supplements, etc. etc. etc. and I only see the situation getting worse. He is getting discourage at school & will most likely be held back this year. I help out in the classroom 2 days a week & have noticed that he is barely even understanding the work he is doing. The teacher gives out about 4 or 5 work sheets & explains what to do, of course he is completely lost, so I see him looking around to "copy" his neighbors page or he is just coloring the worksheets & not even doing the work. He usually brings the ones he doesn't finish home & when I try to help him remember what he was doing, he has no clue. He is definatley capable of learning but not on the same pace as everyone else. The teacher has been trying to help as much as she can but overall I do not see any improvement. Sooo, with all that said, we are now going to try Stratterra and see how it goes. I really didnt want to put him on meds until he was a bit older, but if there is a chance this will help him to be able to sit down & do his work, it will be worth it. I can't always be there at school with him to remind him to sit down, slow down, pay attention & do his work. I still feel guilty, but I think I am making the right choice. Thanks for listening!!!

 
Old 02-11-2004, 10:15 PM   #11
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Hopefully the strattera will work wonderfully with minimal side effects. Let us know how things are going every once in a while.
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Old 02-16-2004, 05:40 AM   #12
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Re: Sometimes it's necessary

Hi Everyone:

I have an interesting anecdote to relate. Usually my son takes 15 mg of Adderall XR in the morning and 5-10 mg of regular Adderall after school. On the weekends, we're not so good about the second dose. Yesterday, about 6:00 p.m., I noticed that he was acting very scattered. I took this opportunity to ask him what was going on in his brain. It was difficult for him to respond. He couldn't find the words. He couldn't even maintain eye contact as he searched for the words. He then made a gesture and facial expression of an explosion as his explanation. I asked him to go take his short acting Adderall. Thirty minutes later we spoke again. He was clear headed and focused. I asked him again, what was going on in his head and he replied with a smile "one thought at a time." I found this response to be very profound for a nine year old.

To me this reinforces our decision. When it works, it works.

 
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