Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I haven't blogged about it, but Austin was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of the last school year. Brian and I have known that this was a possibility for a while, but was hoping we would be able to help him cope with it without going to medication. This just wasn't in the cards.

Kindergarten is supposed to be a fun year. Kids are supposed to like Kindergarten. Not our son. It was too hard, too boring, not fun, and any other reason he could throw at us. His teacher wasn't having any behavior issues with him, but had said that he was awfully slow at getting his work done. He was always one of the last to get done. I later found out that if you didn't get done with your work, it was set aside and you'd try to get it done during a free time. Undone work accumulated all week and was done while the other kids did "fun centers" on Friday afternoon. This would probably be the reason why it was hard, boring and not fun. He was constantly working to keep up and didn't have a chance to have any free time. I'm sure there were times when he finally caught up and got to have fun, but I'm not sure how many times he had to work vs. have free time with his classmates.

Without going into a long story (because I know this will be long enough...I tend to ramble), his neurologist nurse practitioner noticed some signs just sitting in the exam room with him and asked me if we struggled with focusing, impulsiveness, etc. I had already seen the poster they had on the wall and said that we could probably check all of them but one or two. Our plan was to make sure that he wasn't having focal seizures by doing another EEG and then talk about medications.

Now, Brian and I know about the medications associated with ADHD. We weren't thrilled with the side effects and were apprehensive about them. The biggest reason is that they are usually stimulants, which increases Austin's chance of having more seizures. However, we were becoming more open-minded about them as the school year progressed and our son grew more and more unhappy with school. At our follow up appt after the EEG (which had the same results as the EEG he had last September), he was tested for ADHD using the Quotient test. The results broke my heart. Out of 15 minutes, he was only attentive for 30 seconds, two different times. He was either impulsive or distracted for most of the test and the last 4 minutes of the test had completely given up and was disengaged. The neurologist (the doctor this time) said there was no wonder he didn't like school...Austin couldn't focus long enough to do much of anything and was constantly trying to keep up and was still not successful despite his hard work. I wanted to cry. I had let it go the whole year, hoping it would get better. Why didn't I do something about it before?

After a month on one medicine, we switched him because of extreme stomach aches that he got from the meds. He had 2 seizures at the end of that month as well, which were attributed to him out-growing his seizure medicine (since he IS a growing boy!). The next medicine seemed to work pretty well, with no stomach problems. Until about 3 or 3:30. Then, our little world fell apart as the medicine started to leave his system. I've been told that they feel very weird and their body is apparently going through quite a bit as the medicine wears off. He was moody, sensitive and would snap at the littlest thing. It was the worst time of the day for us. There was no way we were going to get through homework time with him like this at that time of the day! He didn't even get home until after 3:40 most days! The doctor switched things again and we are now trying a patch called Daytrana. We are hopeful that this one will work.

SO, all that back story to finally get to the proud moment! :-) Yesterday, I had a conference scheduled with Austin's first grade teacher. She decided that instead of trying to talk to every parent at length at open house, she would schedule these meetings to talk about their child and see what she can do to help them this year. WONDERFUL!

I get there and I am schedule 30 minutes...we filled that 30 minutes and I walked out of there grinning from ear to ear! Basically, although it's only the 3rd day of school, Austin seems to be doing the complete opposite of last year! Mrs. Hume had no clue he was ADHD because he seemed so focused. He's been getting his work done and has even been one of the first kids done in some instances and with GREAT work to boot! Nice penmanship and great work. She said that he is one of the best behaved kids she has and is very caring and friendly towards the other students. With everything he is dealing with, he is doing GREAT! I could have seriously burst at the seams, I was just so ecstatic! She assured me that she would keep an eye on him as we switched his medicine and that she wasn't a teacher to let things go very long at all before getting with the parents if there was an issue. If he's having issues with the amount of homework (since it's a bad time for him right now), just to let her know and we'd try to work something out. I think I could have hugged her...she completely made my day with just this 30 minute block of time!

So, after that meeting, I had a GREAT feeling about this year. I am confidant that this year is going to turn his attitude towards school around! He's even saying how much he likes school. And really, right now, that's all that matters! The rest will fall into place!

{For those who don't agree with ADHD children getting medication to help them, please keep those thoughts to yourself. There is such a stigma associated with these meds and even the diagnoses itself. People think that parents who can't handle their children automatically try to get this fake diagnoses and medicate them into submission. I can tell you that there are probably parents out there that do that...but they are few and far between. The majority of us are just trying to do what's best for our children. Until you walk in our shoes or our children's shoes, you can't know what it's like to have to balance the knowledge of these drugs' side effects with the benefits that they clearly bring to our kids. In the end, if my son's self esteem is better and he's happier because he can finally feel in control of himself, then I am happy.}

1 comment:

Eryn said...

Kerum, I am so happy you found something that works for you guys! I've struggled with my medication for years. I gave it up as soon as I could because (among MANY other reasons) Jimmy could barely stand to be around me if I was on it. I was really mean and disengaged. I'm so happy Austin is doing well. He's too wonderful of a boy for the rest of the world not to get to see him at his best!