Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?

Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it

Mornings May 7, 2010

Filed under: ADHD,Kids — Steph @ 8:27 am

I loathe mornings.  When I was younger I loathed them for entirely different reasons.  I was NEVER a morning person.  Even clear up until a couple of years ago I was not a morning person.  For some reason after the fire that changed.  I go to bed earlier and get up earlier and I don’t hate mornings.  I actually love my time in the mornings before the kids get up.  I have a cup of coffee with one or all of my dogs and just enjoy the quiet.  Then Joey gets up and I am thrust in to some kind of torture I surely haven’t done anything to deserve!!

The child is a dawdler of the variety I can not adequately express in words!  I can wake him up two hours before the school bus is due and he will STILL be rushing out the door as she’s honking her horn!!  It.drives.me.crazy!!  I don’t know how to fix it.  I have tried everything from waking him up two hours early so he has that time to dawdle to waking him up thirty minutes early so he doesn’t.  It makes absolutely no difference.  He will inevitably be in that rush to get out the door before the driver of the bus gives up and drives off.

I’ve tried laying his clothes out the night before, whether I choose them or he does it makes no difference.  The morning will come and with the morning sun comes the inevitable decision “Mom, I can’t possibly wear THAT to school”.  Then I send him to his room to get dressed in whatever outfit he’s finally deemed acceptable and it will take him 45 minutes to put on his pants.  By this time I am not so quietly reminding him the bus will be here in 20, 15, 10, 5 minutes…  He NEVER has time for breakfast.  If he’s up two hours early he will still not have take the time for breakfast.  I will ask him 100 times what he wants and 100 times he’ll say “I’m not hungry yet” or “there’s no food in the house”.  Of course that’s not true.

So today he was up in plenty of time as usual.  Thirty minutes before the bus is due to arrive I tell him to go get dressed.  Thus begins my every five minute reminding him he needs to get a move on.  Today five minutes before the bus was due it was “mom I can’t find socks” so I dutifully find him the socks.  Then three minutes before the bus is due it’s “I need a sandwich, my teacher is making egg salad for lunch today and I HATE egg salad, I can’t possibly eat that, I will starve!”.  I allowed as how he had PLENTY of time early in the morning to make said sandwich and he chose to use his time poorly so he was just going to have to ask his teacher to allow him to get a hot lunch from the lunch room or eat the egg salad that I assured him WILL NOT kill him.  As he’s stomping out the door I explain I am NOT making an entire bus full of children late to school because he chose to wait until the last minute to bring up the sandwich issue.

He stomps out, slams the door and mumbles to himself all the way down the driveway to the bus.  I am quite certain I do not want to know what was being mumbled.

Just another typical morning around here.  Man I love ADHD in the mornings!  It totally sets the tone for my whole day!


My Day – Part 2 April 23, 2010

Filed under: ADHD,Kids — Steph @ 8:28 am
Tags: , ,

Just for Amy I am doing this before I do anything else today.  🙂

So when we left off I was on the phone with my mom and the call waiting beeped in with Joey’s teacher’s cell phone number showing on the screen.  I knew her number because she called me Tuesday.  I put my mom on hold and clicked over.

I wrote a while back about Joey being different. He has been doing EXTREMELY well behavior wise in school, but they can tell if he doesn’t take his meds.  On Tuesday he forgot to take his meds and his teacher called to tell me he’d had a really “off task” day.  Apparently there were 3 of them “off task” that day and she just had a heck of a day.  Joey received two “re-focus slips” which essentially means they sent him to another room to calm down and re-focus his behavior.  When Joey got home that evening he was really on the defensive about his behavior.  Unfortunately he’s using his meds as a crutch for bad behavior.  When I asked him what the deal was he was all “I just couldn’t focus and get on task mom, people were talking to me and I had to talk back to them and then I got in trouble and no one else did and it’s all because I forgot to take my pill” and so on…

One thing we are really struggling to accomplish with Joey is to make him accountable for his actions and behavior.  He’s the king of “it wasn’t my fault!”  He is forever blaming everyone else for his poor choices and now he blames his illness.  He’s been like that for a couple of years now and I talk until I’m blue in the face and he still just doesn’t take accountability.

Anyway, now you have the “back story” to yesterday’s phone call.  When I clicked over it was Joey on the phone and he was crying really hard.  So hard I could NOT understand what he was saying.  At first I thought he was hurt but after a minute or so I managed to figure out he wasn’t hurt but was instead in trouble.  Finally his teacher came on the phone to explain to me what was going on.

She explained he had gotten a 3rd “re-focus” that morning in art class and when you get three of them you have to stay after school at what they call “Academic Academy”.  She asked if he’d had his meds and I assured her he definitely had that morning.  I asked her if he was having another bad day and she said she didn’t really know because she had only seen him briefly that morning.  They go straight to “specials” which happened to be art yesterday.  We talked a little more about his behavior that week.  She actually felt bad he was going to have to stay after school.  She told me she’s pretty lenient with him in some things, especially on what she said are his (very rare since he’s been on meds) “off days”.  She explained how on days he didn’t have his meds she could tell right away and he was like a little “bee buzzing around the classroom talking and flitting and just off task”.   She said she had to follow through with the “Academic Academy” consequence for him because it was a school rule and his 3rd strike was not in her class room.  I assured her I completely understood.  I think she felt bad because his reaction to the discipline was so drastic.  I have NO idea why he was SO upset over it.  He doesn’t like getting in trouble, he’s very sensitive that way, always has been and he’s had a really rough week and made some poor choices that had some severe consequences at home so I can only assume he was afraid of what punishment he’d face at home this time.  To be honest I didn’t really have anything left to punish him with when he got home yesterday.  He’d  had a really bad day on Tuesday and is already grounded from his computer, DS, and sleepovers so I really didn’t have anything left!!  I won’t go in to the whole day on Tuesday because this post is already getting long, I will just say he stayed after school for “Activity Club” on Tuesday but when I got there to pick him up he wasn’t where he was supposed to be and he had lied repeatedly to a teacher that afternoon about where he was supposed to be.  That got him grounded.

She also told me he takes a short time in the mornings to settle down and get focused.  I think he needs to take his meds a bit earlier in the morning so they kick in before he actually gets to class and needs to be on task.  They are time release meds and they’re made to focus them during the day when they really need to be focused but wear off in time for bed so they can sleep.  We’re still learning exactly when they are most effective.

So, that’s my story.  All of this happened before 11 AM.  I know this part isn’t quite as intriguing as the first part but it all fit together to make my day just super fun!

I had to laugh when I was telling my mom about Joey and his “Academic Academy”.  Why can’t they just call it detention?  That’s essentially what it is?!  I’m guessing the new term is meant to lessen the blow to the kid’s self esteem?  But I truly have no idea.

The best part?  When Joey got home yesterday after spending an hour after school he says “I actually kind of enjoyed the Academic Academy because I got to get caught up on homework”

I was totally speechless, but I thought “only my son would enjoy detention”.


My Son is Different March 21, 2010

Filed under: ADHD,Kids,Life — Steph @ 10:23 am
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I have been debating writing this post for a while.  A part of me feels it’s not my story to tell and another part of me wants to protect my son.  Janice over at 5 Minutes For Mom gave me the courage to finally post it.  She shared her son’s story in hopes it will help others.  I can’t argue with that logic and maybe our story will also help someone, so here goes…

For years my son has been getting in to trouble at school.  For years I’ve been wondering “does he need help?” and “does he have ADHD?”  From as early as I can remember my mom and I wondered at whether or not he might have ADHD.  Once he started kindergarten I started to wonder aloud to other people; his teacher, the school social worker, etc…  I was told he was different but that he didn’t have ADHD, he was “gifted” and “gifted” kids present a challenge all their own and often their behavior is similar to kids with ADHD.  I clung to that as if my life depended on it.  I didn’t want my son labeled at all but somehow being labeled as “gifted” didn’t seem as bad as being labeled with “ADHD” something that I knew would follow him forever.  Not that the “gifted” label wouldn’t but it’s so different.

For the next several years I would continue to wonder to myself and I would continue to deny, deny, deny.  When I look back I am ashamed.  I feel this is my biggest failure as a mother so far.  Living in denial cost him several years, years I can’t give back no matter how much I want to now.

The teachers would call, sometimes daily.  “Please help us, he won’t sit still, he talks incessantly, he is so unfocused on his tasks, it’s like pulling teeth to get him to sit still and behave once he finishes an assignment”  I would communicate this to Joe and wonder “what are we supposed to do to control his behavior in school??”  The social worker and teachers would continue to tell me he was simply “gifted”.  Gifted kids get bored.  They finish their assignments before the other kids and then they are bored.  The only way to control that behavior is to constantly keep them busy with one task or another.  From kindergarten to third grade he would have but two teachers who managed to “keep him busy”.  They would give him extra worksheets, errands, etc…  He would struggle socially.  He was disruptive, he talked too much, the teachers would be pulling their hair out, the other kids would see this.  At some point it stigmatizes your child in so far as his peers are concerned.  If the teacher can’t get along with him, why should they?

Then the house burned down and our entire lives were turned upside down.  He struggled even more.  We moved to a neighborhood out of his school zone.  There were few children his age.  He had few friends in that time span.  We kept him in the same school, I drove him across town every day.  We didn’t want to add to the already traumatic experiences he was dealing with by moving him schools mid-year.  His third grade teacher loved him.  She struggled with him but she loved him.  She supported him more than I can even begin to tell you here.  It would literally take all day.  So I will leave it at that.

Finally fourth grade comes and we’ve settled (or so we thought) and we decide it’s time to move him to the closer school.  It turns out half of his hockey team goes to this school, two of his closest friends from hockey are actually IN his class!  For the first time I had a lot of hope for him.  He would finally fit in, be accepted, he could start over fresh.  No one had to know he’d struggled all of these years.  We focused on the positive with him.  We told him this was his chance to “start over” to behave differently, to erase all of the bad behavior that followed him from year to year at the other school.  To not be the “class clown”.

We were naive.  I was naive.  Day one he picks up a bully.  A kid from my mom’s neighborhood he’d had trouble with previously.  Who starts a new school with a bully?  Only my son!  The school counselor and I work together to help him with the bully situation which became dangerous very quickly.  She was/is wonderful.  She would spend untold hours with my son for the next several months.  Helping him to deal with the fire and his feelings of loss and upheaval.  Still, he would struggle.  It was about 3 weeks in to the school year when the calls from the teacher started.  I was disappointed and lost.  What could I do to help him??  I explained to her and the counselor the years of struggle with him.  The “diagnosis” of “gifted”.  Finally the call I’d been dreading for years would come.  “Have you ever considered testing him for ADHD?”.  To my surprise I was not resistant.  I think I knew, despite my years of denial, I knew and here they were offering to help us!  So we began the standard testing done in schools and at home.

Finally the counselor called me to go over the results.  He was off the charts in almost every area.  The testing is based on a scale of 100 kids.  In 4 areas he would rate 97 or higher.  That means only 3 kids struggled as much as mine.  I was crushed and yet relieved at the same time.  Finally we could begin to understand what it was like to be him!  How difficult must it be to live in his world??  The counselor however would suggest we not take these tests at face value.  We should not ignore them, but we should be very sure the diagnosis was correct.  For the next 4 weeks we’d participate in a “double blind study”.  With the supervision of his pediatrician and a pharmacist we would “test him”.  We would have two weeks of placebo medication and two weeks of ADHD medication one low dose and one high.  The only person to know which med we had would be the pharmacist.  We would chart his behavior each week and at the end we’d see where we were.

I would begin to have discussions with him about the medication, about what it would do for him if we were right, about how it could help him to focus, to be able to concentrate on those timed tests he struggled with for so long, etc…

The first two weeks we noticed no change.  I started to think we were wrong, or that I’d been right all along in resisting this idea.  Then the third week came and the difference was night and day.  I literally can’t explain it.  He breezed through his homework, even the timed test practices he struggled with, he’d finish them with time to spare.  He was more focused at hockey practice.  Less combative at home, less likely to flit from one activity to another.  On and on it went.  I KNEW at that point.  It was a med week, I assumed a high dose med week to have changed his behavior so drastically.  Week four came, it was similar to week three but the change was not as drastic.  He struggled a bit.  I was sure it was a med week, but I was also sure it was a low dose week.  The final week would be the week before Christmas vacation.  It seemed unfair to me for us to be testing him this week.  No kids can focus that week!  Visions of sugar plums are already dancing by then.  I was concerned the test would be inaccurate.  We would have to wait until after Christmas break to get the results.  It was a LONG two weeks, all of us wondering what we’d find out.

Just to add to the drama (because we don’t do anything drama free around here) we found out on the 30th we were able to buy the house we’d been coveting, we would however have to close before the end of the year and move over New Year’s weekend.  That same weekend we had a home hockey tournament I was the tournament director of.  We never do anything half assed ya’ll.  To add to all of that we made the very difficult decision to put our oldest dog down, she had crippling arthritis, she could barely stand up.  Another move was just out of the question for her.  Joey would take that EXTREMELY hard.  I had no idea how hard it would hit him.  We’ve only had her for a little over 2 years.  She was my grandpa’s dog, I inherited her when he died.  She was one of two dogs to survive the fire and I think that would factor in to his heartbreak.  I think it felt like we were taking away one of his only remaining constants.  Had we known we still would have had to make the decision we made, but we might have done it a little differently.  Then on January 1st his great grandmother died.  It was like two fists in his gut at once.  We wouldn’t know for a few days how hard he was taking it though, he hid it well.  The day he started back to school he made an appointment with the counselor, that’s how I found out how hard he was taking all of the upheavel.  After a year and a half of constant change and loss he just broke.  I should have seen it coming.  We all should have…  It broke me LONG before it broke him.  We were so oblivious.  The final straw for him was a phone call from the school on his first day back.  He’d have to change schools AGAIN.  He was in another school area and the school he was in was already over capacity.  He would have to move, there was no way around it.

We again focused on the positive, or tried very hard to.  We promised to call the counselor and the pediatrician and get the results of the study.  He may have to switch schools but by golly he’d be doing it with the tools he needed if he needed them.

Not surprisingly he did.  I was right about the meds but I was wrong about the dosage.  The best week was actually a low dose week.  He could take low dose meds and they would make all the difference for him.  We started him right away.  He’s now on a low dose of Concerta.  To say the difference is dramatic would not even begin to adequately express the difference.  He likes to say the “buzzing has stopped” referring to the constant hum of activity that went on in his brain before the meds.

He would have several bad days before he started his meds and I am not sure he wouldn’t have had the bad days no matter what.  Two days I really, really worried about him.  He cried all day, I even kept him home from school those days, he just couldn’t stop crying.  It was all too much.

It’s been 2 months (wow the time just flies).  He’s made good friends in the new school.  There has not been one single call from the teacher.  He goes to a support group to deal with his losses and he takes his meds every day.  At 10 he’s old enough and smart enough to articulate the differences in himself.  He is still “gifted”.  He still finishes his work before everyone else in class.  The difference now is when he’s done he will sit quietly and read a book rather than distracting the whole class.

He is a different kid.  Still full of spunk and still Joey, he would still swear the sky is NOT blue if I said it was.  But the “buzzing” has stopped.  That is music to my ears and I will never forgive myself for not helping him quiet that buzzing sooner.