Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Medication - Day 1

As a parent you have to weigh the pros and cons of everything and then determine what is best for your child armed with whatever information you can gather.

Ari has always been fidgety and talkative and struggled with paying attention in class. We’ve been discussing it with her teachers since she was in 1st grade.

Mrs. Shoemaker, her first grade teacher was great and eased our fears letting us know that yes Ari was an active kid, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a 6 year old. She had twin daughters, one of whom was medicated for ADHD so she understood our concerns and said that we should just keep doing what we were doing and pay attention, that her daughter was able to manage her ADHD until she hit puberty and then her symptoms got so bad that they decided to try medication and it made a world of difference. During her second grade year we moved to California which was bound to stir things up for her so I think we (her teachers, DH and I) just assumed that she was making the best of a new situation, so when Ari got up in class to walk over and discuss a project with a student on the other side of the room in the middle of the teacher talking, we just chalked it up to being in a new environment.

Third grade was nasty. She was always getting in trouble and on more than one occasion when I went to her classroom Ari’s desk would be singled out, situated right next to her teacher’s desk. During 3rd grade Ari told me that she didn’t want to go to school anymore. Of course I used my mommy skills of reverse psychology on her telling her that if she didn’t go to school she wouldn’t be able to be a veterinarian, her lifelong dream. Being a Vet is something she has wanted to do ever since I can remember so I thought this would be the encouragement she needed, but she just told me that she didn’t care anymore and she’s work at McDonald’s the rest of her life if she had to, but that she never wanted to go back to school. I think a lot of things were at play this year. First and foremost, her teacher that year was not the right teacher for her! I had heard parents rave about this teacher so I thought it was all Ari’s doing, but I finally realized that no matter what Ari did (including things that I was aware of at home) her teacher had already decided she was the troubled kid and wouldn’t give her a break. Unfortunately I didn’t recognize this until two thirds of the way through the school year and she didn’t want to switch classes at that point. The second reason was girl drama…since when did girls start having friend drama in the 3rd grade. The girls in her class were petty like Junior High School girls were petty when I was young. Whatever happened to kids just being kids? We got a lot of the friend issues worked out and her year ended up much better than it started out, but by that point and time we had started a conversation with Ari’s doctor about an ADHD diagnosis.

Fourth grade was much better. We discussed our concerns before school even started with Mr. Felton because we were afraid of what might be in her school file because of her previous teacher. He was great to work with us and we made sure to communicate with him often. It was at the beginning of 4th grade that both her 3rd and 4th grade teachers filled out questionnaires along with DH and I for Ari’s doctor to determine a diagnosis. Mr. Felton wasn’t really seeing the issues she had had the year before, but because of our concerns and her 3rd grade teachers questionnaire, her doctor said that she technically did fit into the ADHD category, but that the symptoms didn’t seem too severe. She gave us the option of medication, which we declined because we wanted to be able to try and help her work through it without medication if at all possible. With the help of Mr. Felton she had a pretty good 4th grade year. He told us she was easily an A or at the very least B student, but she struggled getting those grades because of her focus issues. She did well though and ended the year pretty well. I guess I just figured 3rd grade was so bad because of the personality conflict between Ari and her 3rd grade teacher.
Enter 5th grade. Ari cannot stay on task to save her life. I have to admit that I’m not overly organized so I’m not the best role model for her to emulate, but she is getting bad. We have had communication with the teacher, but not on a regular basis. Unfortunately it got to the point that her teacher called me at work a few weeks ago because Ari’s lack of focus on her studies and her inability to not speak out of turn or get up and socialize at inappropriate times was getting intolerable. I have to admit this is a little hard for me to deal with, because I was never that kid. I was quiet and unassuming and getting in trouble from the teacher would have been the end of the world to me, so as a parent this is something I’ve never dealt with before.

After these new concerns, we went and talked with Ari’s doctor again last Friday and decided to give medication a try. I have heard the horror stories about your kids being walking zombies on ADHD medication, but I’ve read that that should not be the case and if it is you need to either lower the dose or switch to a different type. I’m so concerned that it school keeps being a place where she can’t “do anything right” that she will get to the point that she hates school and either not do well or drop out eventually. I’m willing to try this medication to help her to the best she can. Yet again, her teacher this year says that Ari is one of her brightest students, but getting her to focus and pay attention is next to impossible. We get that, we have the same issues at home with homework or cleaning her room, or pretty much accomplishing any task takes her three to four times as long as it should.

So here’s to day 1 on medication. Wish us luck that this will be just the boost that Ari needs. I think it will also her self-confidence if she realizes that she doesn’t have to struggle so hard to do what everyone else expects her to be able to do.
Plus, she's not in too bad of company, what with Michael Phelps being diagnosed with ADHD and all, just hopefully without the pot smoking!


FoxyJ said...

I wish you luck! My daughter is only in kindergarten, but I share many of your thoughts. Particularly the issue of focus--even for a kindergartener she's on the far end of the spectrum with distractibility and energy. She's already starting to struggle with school, and it's hard for us because neither of us ever had trouble in school. I think part of it this year is teacher issues, but we've also realized late in the year and this is already her second school this year so we really couldn't change. Anyways, I hope things go well for Ari and that school gets better for everyone.

the wrath of khandrea said...

good for you for doing what you feel is best for your chid. i hope this helps her to be the kid you know she is.

Tina said...

You should email me.
One of our boys is severe and is on medication. We do not believe in the use of drugs for anything other than recreation so this was hard for us....okay, totally kidding on the recreation part.
I can not even begin to tell you how much easier our world is.

Heather said...

I feel for you. We went through this with Jeremy. He started meds at age 5. We took him off of them when he was 14. He has done well. What is Ari taking?

Amanda D said...

Good luck, I hope it goes well!

Jenn said...

Good luck with this. We sort of undertand,what with Braden's autism. They wanted to start medicating him pretty young, but he's still doing fine with nothing. I'm sure it will come up again, though. Good for you though, doing whatever it takes and being cautious! You're a great mom!

Livejasmin said...

That's nice