Tag Archives: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

If I Had Known Then What I Know Now

You know that feeling of queasiness that makes you breathe just a little deeper and slower while you squeeze your eyes shut and tell yourself over and over again, “I will NOT throw up. I will NOT throw up.”? Of course, you do throw up and after wiping the snot from your nose and the tears from your eyes, you actually feel just a tad better?

Well that was how things were up to that last post with IT being the puking.

I feel better, but only just a tad.

I was friended recently by the woman of the husband/wife team who we gave the baptism classes when Aitch was a newborn. I remember how grateful I was when at each class Aitch would want to nurse so I would get to escape with her while my husband listened to the blah-blah-sacrements-blah-blah-blah. I will call this woman, Britt.

She’s also a fellow parent from Doodicus’s school, but while we are “meh” about the whole religion thing, she is a hand-to-God pious, righteous woman. We would seem to be complete opposites spiritually. She’s also perky and cute and has a nanny and one could easily assume she’s a trophy wife. But each time we’ve run into each other, we can’t seem to stop talking. About whatever! The kids being assholes. Husbands being assholes. Ourselves being assholes. There’s this dark side to her that I’m sure I can develop, given time.

I explain that so you can understand why I accepted her friend request on Facebook.

She sent me a message the other day and wants the link to my blog. She’s been the only person I’ve known in real life that I’m friends with on Facebook that has asked. I don’t make it a secret that I have one, I just don’t publish it on FB (if you see it, it’s because of my settings). In short, I told her I wasn’t ready to share this site with her but I didn’t send her the link to my old blog. I figured if she could get past the first 100 times I wrote shit, fuck or damn, then I knew she’d have potential.

Before I sent the link, I thought I’d read through the first few pages of posts, something I haven’t done in a long time, just to make sure it didn’t link back here somehow. Now I suppose if she dug through the comments she’d eventually find this blog, but if she’s going to go through that much torture, well then she deserves to find this pile of crap.

Anyway, I found a post that referred to some of the troubles we were having with Doodicus when he was still X Boy, still an only child, still undiagnosed with ADHD and I wanted to kick my own ass. Like this one (password protected but remember what this is still, right? think of a model plane…) or crap, this one; posts where I had exclaimed, “What’s wrong with my little boyyyyyyy???!!” and now I think to myself, “Well, duh, Woman. How could you not see that he has ADHD?”

It was a bumpy stroll down Memory Lane.

I know there’s been a couple of you who are facing some difficult decisions about what’s the best way to evaluate your child and figuring out what’s “normal”. You know what? There’s no Normal; no Standard your child should meet . You have to go with your gut. Not your heart. Your heart will throw you under a fucking bus. Go with your gut, because you have nothing to lose by being diligent. If I hadn’t swallowed a bit of pride, I could have lost everything.

Followed by the Lows

I hate to follow-up a series of posts about the Happiest Place On Earth with a post that could very well be one of my unhappiest, but honestly, I predict there will be even more unhappy.

Doodicus saw a child psychologist a couple of weeks after our return from Disney World. I’ll have to go back a couple of weeks before that to explain how we got there.

After the meeting with his teachers and principal in November, it didn’t seem as if any of their proposals to help improve the situation at school were implemented, including assigning him a “buddy” to make sure assignments were written and homework brought home. That being said, the things seem to hit an even keel. In other words, it didn’t get worst, but it didn’t get any better.

Then I got a call from his teacher: Doodicus got into a classmate’s backpack and took some candy without permission. I was very upset and called the district school’s psychologist, the one who had evaluated Doodicus to figuratively cry on his shoulder and to plead on Doodicus’s behalf, “He’s not a bad kid. I don’t know why this is happening, and I want him to get help.”

Melodramatic much?

I don’t take my son’s snooping through a kid’s backpack and taking candy lightly. At all. Personally, I don’t see it any differently than stealing something from a store, or even out of a stranger’s house. In fact, after I picked Doodicus up from school that day, I drove him by the police station and told him the next time, we’ll go straight to the station and he won’t be coming home with me. He’s only ten, you might say? I would have been way more lenient if he had been four, five, maybe even six, but not ten.

So I am back to worrying that I’m not doing enough to make sure Doodicus can succeed not only in school, but in life generally. I hate feeling like there’s some doubt as to whether his behaviors are a result of ADHD or to lenient parenting. I decided to be proactive and schedule this appointment with the pediatric psychologist. I was hoping we would go in, spend some time talking, review his history, and be told to go home and keep doing what we had been doing – we’re doing great!

We are not.

Approximately half way through the hour-session, I brought up the fact we were discussing moving him to a different school next fall. When I looked over at Doodicus, his face was red and there were tears in his eyes. I stopped, stunned. The doctor, Dr. Ashley, asked Doodicus why he was upset. No response. We let him breathe through the moment and calm down and at that time he admitted he not only was scared to go to a new school and leave the friends he knew, he was scared of how the teachers will continue to treat him if he stays. But the scariest moment came when Dr. Ashley asked if Doodicus if he had ever thought about hurting himself. I can recall that Doodicus has been so upset in the past over a punishment that he wished he hadn’t been born, so it came as a punch to the heart when he confirmed he has more recently thought about self-harm.

My initial concerns for making the appointment – the lack of organization, the oppositional behavior – they are now nothing. This anxiety Doodicus is feeling is not uncommon for children with ADHD and Dr. Ashley mentioned it may or may not be related to the medication, but these emotions are priority. Obviously. It was surreal to be told by his doctor to make sure we remove any instruments he may mention in crisis, because while being ten is old enough to know better about getting into other people’s things, it’s way too fucking young to be so anxious and considering that there’s an extreme solution. I won’t even say the word. I can’t.

ADHD Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Doodicus, who is now 10, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was six. One of the most prominent symptoms of ADHD is impulse control.

Lacking impulse control means he has problems thinking clearly through the consequences to his actions, that he does… well, impulsively.

For his birthday, we gave him a Nintendo 3DS. Some may think it’s an elaborate gift, but electronic games are life-savers for us when we have to sit for somewhere for an extended period of time (two- three-hour car drives; dinner with in-laws; doctor appointments, etc.) because it’s the only thing that can keep him quietly distracted. For everyone involved, something like this gaming system can keep our sanity levels on an even keel. If you have an ADD or ADHD child, you know what I’m saying is true.

He’s been begging us to allow him to bring it to show to his friends at the daycare. I have repeatedly stood my ground and said no. In the past, he has actually snuck things to daycare and either lost them or had them damaged, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s not allowed to bring anything electronic with him to share.

However, this week, which he is off from school for winter vacation, he asked over and over again if he could bring his 3DS to show his friends before everyone was back in school. Tuesday night I finally caved with only one seemingly easy condition he would have to meet: exceptional behavior for two days straight. That meant no whining, no complaining, no crying, no fits of rages, no poor housekeeping, no arguing. His BEST behavior is what I was asking for.

And then I found out that of the four 3DS games he has received since his birthday, he had already “lost” two (I actually had one in my possession that I had found left carelessly on the floor a couple of days before). An additional condition was announced. He’d have to find the remaining game cartridge. You’d think I’d asked for the moon with the wailing and gnashing of teeth, albeit in a much more subdued manner considering our FIRST condition. As an incentive, Sparring Partner told him if he found the cartridge today (Wednesday), he could bring it as soon as Thursday to show his friends. With this new fire lit under his ass, Doodicus produced the “lost” cartridge within 10 minutes (it was under the couch).

Finally! With our reluctant blessings, he set aside what he was bringing to daycare tomorrow (Thursday) and got ready for bed. That’s when everything turned sour. I can’t say what he had done, but it was a breach of the housekeeping rules we have and it was something he had done already this morning; no more than 12 hours after my original condition of being on his BEST behavior for 48 hours. Eight of those twelve were spent asleep. So basically within an hour of waking up, he had blown it and then tried to hide it.

The deal of bringing his 3DS to daycare was completely off the table for both Thursday and/or Friday. In other words, we were back to square one and my original rule: no electronics to daycare.

We tried to explain how inability to show responsibility and consideration for the rules of our home is what blew it for him, but instead of listening and learning, all he could do was pound his head into his pillow and demand we give him a DIFFERENT punishment – an alternative. Not a word of apology or remorse was said. Why? Let’s look back at that whole impulse control thing. Normally, we avoid doing something wrong because we are able to think through the consequences to our actions. Doodicus does not…wait, no: He is INCAPABLE of thinking this way. He performs an action without a moment to consider the consequences. This then means that he feels no need to apologize or feel bad about his actions because in his head he’s done nothing wrong (if he thought he had or was going to do something wrong, he probably wouldn’t do it. Make sense?). Instead he just considers us cruel, unfair, and more and more commonly expressed in fits of rage, that we hate him.

The impulse control issues is probably one of the hardest things we deal with when it comes to the ADHD. It contributes to 90% of the day-to-day issues. When my husband is blowing his stack over something Doodicus has done, I have to remind him over and over again that our son just doesn’t have that edit button; that filter in his brain.

This all happened within an hour of me writing this out. In fact, I can hear Doodicus in his room muttering to himself in anger and disappointment (not with himself, but with us). Tomorrow we’ll have to be on high-alert for smuggled items in pockets, socks, shoes, underwear, coat, all of which he’s done before. Tomorrow I will hope that he’s learned something from all of this. And tomorrow I will worry that he may never.

Ambivalence is My Middle Name

It’s funny how I don’t feel like updating here anymore. Every day several times a day I think, “Hey! That would make for a great blog post!” and then? Seriously. I haven’t written a great blog post since never. Speaking of which, I started blogging August 2005.

I have no idea why I brought that up since it’s October somethingorother. Which also reminds me, I won’t be participating in NaBloMo or whatever it’s called.

Did I just hear a collective sigh of relief?

My daughter still hasn’t pooped in the potty but she’s not holding it for five days at a stretch, either. She keeps telling me “next time”. In an uncharactheristic move, she also pissed her pants while sitting on my glider-rocker. As I was stripping her down for a quick belly-button-on-down bath, I asked why she did it.

“It was an accident, Mommy! I’m sorry.” …. dramatic pause … I love you.”

I bought a couple tuttu skirts from Target thinking they’d be a novelty. However, Aitch has become so enamoured with them, I went and bought a couple more. She has worn one at least every day now. When it’s cooler, she’ll succumb to the addition of leggings, but it’s like trying to wrestle a cat into a pillowcase.

I went back for a three-month follow-up appointment with my PA. I need a refill of the paxil and ambien. The thing is is that I didn’t really want a refill of the ambien because I was anticipating my evenings just so I could TAKE the ambien. He said as long as I’m able to get up in the morning and feel rested that I’m taking it as I should. And then we talked more about my depression. Actually he asked why I thought I was depressed. I told him I wasn’t really sure, but that maybe it was the miscarriages and infertility or the pregnancy with Aitch that I was sure was going to end with a dead baby and then the loss of my job after ten years and then the cancer. Oh, and let’s not forget my son’s ADHD which makes him do things that make me so angry at everyone and everything that I’m sure my fury will result in one of those rare cases of spontaneous combustion and the only thing that will be left will be a pair of hopefully fabulous shoes and a singe mark on the ceiling.

I’m sorry. What was the question again?

He suggested, as many of you did, I seek counseling. I told him I would think about it, because you see I am still in denial. Enough so I didn’t pick up my refill of paxil and ambien. At least not yet.

Sweet and Sour

Today was a bag full of shit just waiting to explode. And it did. Doodicus was exceptionally defiant and belligerent and several times I had to remind myself that I did indeed see Sparring Partner apply his medicated patch this morning. I can tell by 10:00 a.m. whether or not he’s had his medication, and today he just never showed much improvement behaviorally.

His play with Aitch was rougher and unfortunately he was shouted at more times today than I care to recall simply because he just couldn’t hear us telling him to back off. By that time, whether it was by SP or myself, we were pretty short-fused so Doodicus’s responses were shouted right back. One of the largest tell-tale signs that he just wasn’t acting normally to his meds was how angry he got over the simplest of things, like telling him to get the ketchup out of the fridge for the dinner table or waiting until it got a little darker to light fireworks. His angry? A combination of gritting his teeth and shouting, “GOD!!” while stomping away to his room followed closely by hysterical tears and dry-retching. Not pretty I assure you.

Bedtime is always a welcomed reprieve, to say the least. But it also brought the final melt-down of our day triggered by the fact he couldn’t find his iPod that he uses to listen to his music at night. We made an attempt to find it while he got ready for bed, and during that search I checked the cushions of the chair he usually sits in to play his games or watch TV. What I found in the chair was dozens (and I seriously mean DOZENS) of candy and fruit-snack wrappers crumpled and shoved inside. These weren’t an accumulation over weeks or days because that cushion is also the favorite place for the remote to disappear under as well the fact that the wrappers were mostly from the candy he had obtained from the parade we had attended earlier.

I was infuriated, to put it mildly. Doodicus was summoned from his room and given a tongue-lashing while he cleaned up the mess. After calming down, I returned to his room where he was once again settled in for the evening and I tried to express how we find it harder and harder to trust him as he continues to make the same mistakes over and over AND OVER again with no sign of remorse. NONE, which for Sparring Partner is the more disappointing than the actual rule-breaking. Doodicus just does not give a shit when he disappoints.

So while I’m trying to have this heart to hear talk, SP comes in and holding a nearly empty bag of marshmallows. One that I had just bought on Friday. One that I hadn’t opened. Not only that, but SP had bought a handful of those Laffy Taffy sticks as a treat for the kids…and found one remaining.

It explained why his medication seemed to have little effect on him; he was so fucking high on sweeteners and dyes that it would have put a “normal” adult in a sugar-coma. I suppose you could point out that we shouldn’t keep sweets in the house, but this has never been a problem before; this sneaking of candy and snacks. I can’t help but be reminded of those stories adoptive families tell of their child hoarding food because they were starving in orphanages. Since school has been out, which has been over a month, I have found candy wrappers in and under his bed, the garbage can in his room, the pockets of his clothes and scattered among toys. But tonight was the final straw.

I gathered up the remaining candy, fruit snacks, marshmallows, etc., and tossed them in a giant bowl and tucked it all away in an upper cabinet out of sight. Tomorrow morning when he wakes and starts trawling for sweets, he will find raisins, vanilla wafers and BBQ sauce on the shelf where the sweets were once kept.

While I am disappointed and frustrated, I feel guilty for not having done something sooner. I know a poor diet makes ADHD symptoms worse but I thought I could trust him. Now I’m just so angry, I even considered making him eat even more just so he’d end up sick enough to puke. Maybe he has to learn those kind of lessons the hard way because it seems I’ve failed to teach them in the hopes of making him more responsible.

Bullying

A couple of weeks ago when I picked up Doodicus from school, he was clearly upset about something. I have to admit that at first I tried to ignore it because he can be overly emotional about what should be very insignificant things: I combed his hair wrong, his pants are too long, his toast wasn’t cut exactly down the middle; however, not even with me being a hardened bitch could I ignore his attempt to not cry.

It took some gentle prodding for him to finally admit that a couple of his classmates were making fun of his name. At first, I imagined the name that my SIL had once called him when Doodicus was a baby: “Maxi”. Sparring Partner immediately read her the riot act for obvious reasons. And if it isn’t obvious to you, then you were never a school-aged child.

Instead the name they called him was Office Max. I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal, but they must have needled him to no end about it. I tried to convince him that he should have just replied, “That’s the best you could come up with? You guys are idiots,” but snappy comebacks do not come natural to 9 year olds. By the end of the day, it had all but been forgotten.

Some days later I was reading the People magazine which highlighted the deaths of several young people who had committed suicide following some form of bullying. Inside were stories from other students who briefly described the bullying they had been exposed to, including one who said she was bullied “just because.”

I knew after reading those stories that I had to say something to my son’s principal about it, especially since the recent name calling was not the first time Doodicus had been upset at the end of a school day. A few months ago, he joined the Y contact football league for the first time. He was so pumped about it, and while we knew he would never be NFL material, we were thrilled that he was putting in the effort of going to practice, a brutal 90 minutes two times a week and the one hour games on Sundays. But after the first handful of games, he suddenly stopped being excited about practice and asking if he could stay home. He finally told us that one of the kids on his team, who also was a classmate, would tell Doodicus that he should just quit football; that he sucked and he shouldn’t come back.

As you can imagine, I was furious. To make matters even worse? This kid’s dad was one of the coaches. At the next practice I pulled aside this coach to let him know, and he seemed genuinely concerned. He agreed to address the kids as a team about how this was to be a learning experience, a fun experience. Doodicus told me later that the coach had reminded the kids about what was expected of them as a team, but the haranguing from that kid did not cease until football season finally ended. I doubt Doodicus will return to football this coming fall.

If you hadn’t put two and two together yet, one of the kids that had been poking fun at Doodicus’s name was the same kid from football. When I sent the principal an email about these incidents, I did name the kid as the bully. The principal replied that they would be on the watch for future interactions, but I honestly have the feeling he didn’t take it that seriously.

Here’s why I am taking it seriously. VERY seriously. As I have mentioned, Doodicus is very sensitive and emotional. He recently got into trouble for something at home and lost privileges to his new ipod for a week. He was so upset, he told me he doesn’t deserve to be alive. You can’t possibly know what that feels like, but I can tell you my blood ran cold while at the same time the surge of adrenaline nearly blinded me. The only thing I could do was to calm and reassure him that it’s the action we were displeased with but that wouldn’t change how much we loved him for him.

And this is not the first time he has made this kind of statement. What scares me more than anything is that we know it won’t be the last. You think I am worrying for nothing? Almost exactly a year ago a nine year old committed suicide in his school. He had been sent to the nurse’s office for disciplinary reasons, panicked, and hung himself in the bathroom.

He had been taking medication for mood swings and for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and had been having suicidal thoughts for about two years, the police report states.

In 2007, [his] parents, [J] and [D], sought treatment for their son for ADHD.

And yes, those are the parents’ initials (for those who know us).

So I hope you can understand why the bullying cannot – and will not – be taken lightly. I am afraid. Please don’t tell me not to be.

Determination

After waiting nearly eight weeks from the time the request was made until the observations and testing was done, the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team Conference (MDT) concluded that Doodicus did not meet the needs of an Individual Education Program (IEP).

In short, his ADHD is not detrimental enough to require special considerations from his school.

It’s funny, this mixed feeling I have about that. Of course I’m thrilled to know that on the one hand his ADHD is not keeping him from excelling in many areas of his school work, including “strengths in nonverbal reasoning/visual processing.” On the other hand, he will be twisting in the wind in the areas we know will be his Achilles, especially next year in 4th Grade which is heavy in writing and reading assignments: “[Doodicus] struggles most in writing and the creative process. He will require numerous prompts, examples and guidance with such assignments.”

A reminder that the eight weeks wait is because the one school psychologist (the same one we met with two years ago when Doodicus was in the 1st Grade and we first found out about his ADHD) for this district is through the public school and our son goes to a parochial school. The public schools get priority. By the time the doctor was able to observe Doodicus in class, the major hurdle that he seems to have – adjusting to an adjustment to his schedule – had already been surmounted.

How can one feel disappointed with the determination when Doodicus brought home straight As for both quarters completed so far? He is finally doing his homework nightly without too much nagging. After twelve weeks in school, he had eleven perfect spelling tests. The exception? The first test when he didn’t know what to expect.

The psychologist provided us with two and half pages of narrated observations. I’ve paraphrased some of the more interesting points below. To me anyway, since we aren’t describing your kid, right?

  • His desk in appearance is somewhat disorganized (very diplomatically said because I have seen the inside of his desk – it’s the reason he’s had several late assignment slips since he can’t find anything) but his school work is very neatly done (his handwriting is enviable, even by me).
  • His best friends are from outside interactions; none from school.
  • He rotates his head when speaking, either to the left or the right and rarely at the examiner, and responses would need repeating as he is soft-spoken and speech more monotone. Apart from this, he’s rather articulate using words uncommon at his age. The words were not so advanced as they were just specific.
  • A relative weakness for him is working memory, which is the ability to acquire and store diverse information in short term memory, to sort it, and then to present it in a new format. Math story problems, presented orally, is one example of a task requiring working memory.
  • He’s a reluctant writer. He can rewrite a sentence to correct grammar or punctuation but seems unable to create a paragraph on his own.
  • Other notable characteristic he has is that he seems to have a high level of anxiety but not in the clinically elevated range. For example, he expressed a concern of his mother’s health…He’s a worrier and seems to have greater self-doubt than most.

Like I said, most of it probably seems like a lot of mumbo jumbo because we aren’t talking about a child you know personally. A child who internalized so many of his emotions, by the end of the day he’ll burst into tears because instead of getting eleven french fries, he only got ten; a child who once frustrated with his homework will take an eraser and rub the paper so hard it rips into shreds; a child who still needs reminding to use the bathroom.

So, yeah, no disability, but with that means no additional help. Next year I won’t wait for the frustration and fighting before asking for IEP. I will request a new evaluation with the first request for tuition. Maybe the psychologist will squeeze us in first this time.