Before Kids (B.K.) I said the words… “I will never medicate my kids.” (for reasons other than illness – I’m all about vaccinations and antibiotics, when necessary)
For the past 8 years I’ve said, “I’m not judging, but I don’t NEED to medicate my kids.”
In May, B got an official diagnosis I didn’t really anticipate. Those four dreaded words…. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Ok, so maybe I had suspicions, maybe WE had suspicions, but I thought “We can HANDLE this.” And at home, we were handling it. He did his chores (it took forever), he did his homework (it took forever AND he wouldn’t turn it in), and he was able to follow directions (if I repeated myself a million times). Ok, so maybe we were just barely handling it. But what did WE know? It’s all we ever knew.
While we could handle his behavior (or so we though), it was not being tolerated at school. It was beyond frustrating and at times felt like a personal attack on our parenting skills. Not to say we have amazing parenting skills, but a lot of the behaviors that the teachers would report home — we never really saw. It’s not that I didn’t BELIEVE it was happening, I just couldn’t help them. And part of me also thought… he’s JUST a typical boy.
So after two years of back and forth with teachers, countless conversations about him “not reaching his full potential, ” AND the run around from his pediatricians – we finally scored an appointment with a pediatric behavioral specialist… and our lives have changed.
B wasn’t diagnosed with the hyperactive type of ADHD — but the inattentive type. He is actually not hyperactive at all. Most people that know or even meet him are surprised by the diagnosis because he is generally pretty quiet and reserved. He loves to read. He likes puzzles and math. He can focus — and in fact he is hyper-focused on things that he enjoys.
Like I said, I was always pretty adamant that I wasn’t going to medicate. I didn’t feel like it was necessary. I struggled with this decision. I cried, I felt guilty, I procrastinated, I cried some more. It was a huge concern to me that he not lose himself to medication. That he not become a zombie.
But then I heard these words straight from the source… “I feel like I can’t ever catch up because there is just too much going on. There is too much going on in my head.”
*cue mom guilt*
It was at that moment where I (we) threw my (our) opinions out the window and agreed to TRY medication.
The more I researched these meds, the more I realized that I was doing B a disservice by not, AT THE VERY LEAST, trying them out. So, for the past few months we have. During the summer it was mostly on the weekends only when we can monitor his behavior and ensure that it’s working.
Guess what? It’s working. IT’S WORKING.
He IS a completely different kid… but not in a bad way. He’s still B — but he’s also calm, focused, and he FOLLOWS DIRECTIONS.
I actually think the biggest eye opener for us, in all of this, is the whole following directions thing. For the longest time I thought that B just had selective hearing and he was intentionally ignoring me. Now I realize that it’s more than that. Yes, maybe it’s partially selective, but it’s mostly due to the fact that he has a million things going on in his head and if it doesn’t interest him, he ain’t got time for that.
It’s not perfect by any means. He still struggles with organization and management. He still forgets to turn in his homework. He still gets distracted and the teachers find him doodling or making paper Star Wars characters during a lesson. He still has his moments.
But… the pros outweigh the cons.
I have had minimal interaction with his teachers this year and when we have talked, the feedback is usually positive.
He was also selected as student of the month for his Extended Day class. STUDENT OF THE MONTH!! This might not seem like a huge deal, but when you repeatedly hear things like, “Wow – he is doing really great this year.” when you previously heard the opposite, it almost feels like he won a big award.
In addition to all of this… he seems happier and he’s just more involved over all. He’s less fidgety. He loves playing soccer and enjoys the more creative aspects of his schoolwork. His handwriting is immaculate (it was previously illegible) and he has been really into drawing. He has more confidence.
He’s still the same old kid though. He’s sarcastic and can front some serious attitude. He gets in trouble in class because he likes to make people laugh. He likes to read, play video games, and watch movies. He likes to annoy his sister and make his brother laugh. That part of him, the very part I was worried would change, has remained the same.
All this being said, I know this will continue to be a bumpy ride. We have been working on getting a 504 Plan with his school for MONTHS and we’re still waiting, although we finally have an appointment scheduled at the end of the month. As he grows, his prescription will change and we will have to continuously monitor what works for him. Right now, that’s the very medication I fought so long against.
His Dr. is hopeful that he will grow out of it (research implicates that about 50% of those diagnosed with inattentive ADHD do) and that in time he will learn to manage his executive functions. We can support this by tasking him to be independent (he now folds his own laundry, makes his own breakfast, picks out his clothes, and sometimes turns his homework without prompting), sticking to routines, and emphasizing the importance of responsibility (being on time, taking care of his toys, and helping around the house). I have hope too.
The biggest hope though, has come from a place I didn’t expect.
If you are struggling to make this same decision, my wish is that I can give you hope too. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t feel guilty. Most importantly though (because it’s something I’ve definitely experienced on this journey), DON’T let other people make you feel guilty. THEY don’t have to raise your child.
Like I said, B.K. — I would never medicate my child. However, for the past few months I’ve said, “Medication is the best thing that’s happened to my family.”
You say a lot of stupid stuff before you have kids, huh?