I asked my friend who knows our son very well and happens to be a teacher, “Do you see any characteristics of ADHD in our son?” Her answer stopped me dead in my tracks:
“Oh yeah, I thought you knew he had ADHD and just hadn’t decided if you were going to medicate. You really need to have him evaluated.”
Our fifth child has been a challenge. He is strong-willed, has Sensory Processing Disorder and is just a handful. We have said more than once that when we go places, EVERYONE knows his name because we keep saying it to get him to listen. We had LITERALLY (said just like Chris Traegor from Parks and Rec) tried every discipline technique known to modern man with him and nothing seemed to click. We kept doing what we were doing and teaching and disciplining him, hoping he would get it and this would get easier.
It never even occurred to me that he might have ADD or ADHD.
Two years of preschool confirmed that it wasn’t just our home or just at the babysitter’s house, but he had challenges around others and in the school setting. We had him tested with the help of our school system for speech and OT, and he tested above where he needed to be for special services. At church, at home and at school – just about everywhere – there seem to be behavioral issues, and we were just hoping with time and maturity he would grow to listen and learn.
ADD? ADHD? For real? How did I miss this? After all, I am his MOM!
In the fall, we started Kindergarten and when I say WE, I mean WE. WE have an amazing teacher and while we were hoping he would behave like an angel for her, we secretly knew we would become those parents that had a close relationship with his teacher. She is seriously THE most amazing teacher. She has taught us some new phrases to use with our son (my husband thinks we should pay her royalties every time we use one of her phrases) and has helped us see him through her eyes. She encouraged us and communicated about his behavior and allowed us to reinforce it at home and partner with her.
I don’t want him to have ADD/ADHD or anything else. I don’t want him to struggle.
Kindergarten conferences were around the corner, and things were not going well at school for him. I knew something was not right and that is when I asked my friend the question, the one that has changed our lives.
“Do you think our son has characteristics of ADHD?” My sweet friend is not a doctor, she is an educator and has decades of experience with children with ADD and ADHD and Autism. She has never brought it up to me because she thought I already KNEW he had those characteristics and she was being respectful of me and letting me handle it the way I wanted to.
I knew my friend was right. It confirmed what my heart knew and now I needed to help my son.
The first conference was not a surprise. Well behind where he needed to be academically, we needed to do something or he would fall further behind. Focus and impulsiveness, oral fixations, blurting out and basic self-control seemed to be among the issues he was having.
Our teacher agreed to fill out the appropriate paperwork and send it to our doctor. At our 6-year-old check-up, I asked the doctor what she thought and she confirmed we should get him evaluated to find out what was going on with him – she said it could be ADD or ADHD or a few other behavioral issues. We started the process to get him evaluated.
The test came back that he was dealing with an ADD/ADHD combination and we had many options. We could go the therapy/counseling route, change up our discipline and see if that helps or start with testing medication.
Medicate or not to medicate? That was our question.
This was a tough decision for us. If you are reading this and are in the same spot we were, this is a tough question you may be facing and I know you will make the best decision for your child, just like we did. As a mom, we are faced with decisions in parenting and we may agree sometimes and we may disagree.
I have heard all of the opinions regarding medicating your child, and that is just what they are opinions. We all have them and we are all entitled to our opinions, and it may be my age as I am getting closer to the big 5-0, but I have learned to feel confident in the decisions that my husband and I make for our children. I hope you do too. Whatever you decide, make a decision and stick with it.
We decided to try medication for our son.
Medication is NOT an easy fix for ADD/ADHD. Medication does NOT substitute for parenting. Medication is NOT the answer to all of your child’s challenges. Medicine is NOT a magic pill.
Our journey has taken several months to find the right mediation. We’ve learned there are stimulant and not-stimulant medications to treat ADD/ADHD. It took a doctor who would respond to messages daily about the behavior of our son, monitored his reaction or non-reaction to medication, monitored his weight loss and helped us in finding the right dosage and combination to make our son the best 6-year-old he could be. After spending hundreds of dollars and months of monitoring our son in a school setting (shout out to that AMAZING teacher again) and at home, we have finally found something that works (for now), knowing that as he grows and changes, his medication will need to be adjusted, too.
We are breathing again.
We can now discipline our 6-year-old for being 6 and instruct him the way he can now understand. He is still himself and not lethargic on the medication, but he is now focused. He is so silly and has a great sense of humor, we see more of that now. He seems more confident and loves that he can solve problems using his brain. He still gets in trouble and still needs correction and discipline, but it is appropriate now for his age. He has improved at school tremendously and is learning how to have self-control and be a better friend. He is growing each day, in how he acts and reacts.
To medicate was the right choice for our son.
Special thank you to today’s guest blogger: Cheryl Brackemyre (Dayton Mom Collective senior contributor)
I grew up in Centerville, but I now live in Wilmington with my husband Tony. Together we have 6 kids, Joe, and his wife Allison, Austin, and his wife Hannah, Sydney and her husband Hayden, Andrew and his sweet fiance, Lauren and Max and Eli. Did I mention we are a little nuts starting over with this parenting thing when we are 45+???? My husband and I are both ministers, he is a youth minister and I’m a children’s minister and we get to work at the same church. We were both married before and brought our families together in 2010. After a few years of marriage, we felt God’s leading for us to adopt. We added Max to our family in 2014 and Eli joined us in 2017, our quiver is officially full! Blending our family has been an adventure! Add some ex-spouses and two birth mommas and we have ourselves a crazy crew! Coffee is my love language, I just finished binge-watching The Crown and feel a bit fancy now. The beach is my happy place and I long to have my toes in the sand. I love being part of the team at Dayton Mom Collective.