Sunday, March 7, 2010

The day that changed our lives...

I will never forget the day that my son was diagnosed with ADHD. It was a day that changed our lives forever... and I would like to think that our lives were changed for the better.

First, let's back up a few months... to see where it all started. Andrew had some problems in Kindergarten but after working with the teacher, he seemed to do better in school. Then first grade came and we switched him to a charter school because they were supposed to teach to the multiple intelligences. I had done alot of research and reading and knew that my son needed to be taught in a different way in order for him to completely engage in a subject. I thought this charter school would be the answer! I was wrong.

After the first week of school his first grade teacher said that I might want to have him tested for ADHD. I was shocked and in major denial - how dare she suggest that my son have ADHD? Things got worse for Andrew and the immature teacher did not help the situation. It got so bad that they had put Andrew in his own desk with a box of tape around the floor surrounding his desk - to help him "stay in his space". Poor classroom management led to meltdowns for my son in the classroom and he would crawl under his desk and retreat from the scary classroom situations. Of course this was "disruptive" and "distracting" for the other kids, so the administration would try and remove him from classroom and of course he would not go willingly. The teacher ended up leaving the school but things did not get better. My son had learned behaviors in an effort to try and cope with situations where he didn't know how to solve his own problems.

After being suspended a couple of times due to the charter school's "no tolerance" policy, we realized that something had to change. There was little to no support at the charter school and in an effort to find out what was really going on with him, we put him back into the public school and scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist thought that it was most likely anxiety but since the teachers were pushing us to look at ADHD, we started with ADHD meds and a thorough evaluation by a psychologist.

After filing out alot of paperwork for our visit, Andrew and I spent an entire day at the psychologist's office where he took many different tests. I was convinced that my did NOT have ADHD and these tests would prove it! After all, he could sit and play a board game or something that interested him for hours - with no signs of inattention or hyperactivity!

Then that day came... and my husband and I went back to see the psychologist to get Andrew's test results. I was nervous, but I knew that we would finally have some answers! They were not the answers I was expecting... I remember looking at the impulsivity test results and coming face to face with the fact that Andrew scored very high and there was no more denying the fact that he had ADHD. I remember the fear and uncertainty that I felt - "Now what do we do?" At least we had an explanation for the behaviors that we had been dealing with.

The psychologist recommended a book to get us started... Driven to Distraction by Ed Hallowell. That began my plight to read everything I could about ADHD and learn all I could so that I could support my son. We have tried many different things to help him be successful in school, some worked, some didn't... but we still keep on looking for anything that might help. I have come to realize there is no "cure" for ADHD, but that I have to have many different tools in my toolbox. It takes a combination of interventions to help my son.

As I look back and think about how far we have come, I wouldn't change it for the world. I prefer to look on the bright side. Yes, my son has ADHD but that does not define him. Andrew is so fun and creative. He is outgoing and fun-loving. He is funny and sweet. He is the kindest kid you will ever find. He has a HUGE heart for others. Our life will never be "normal" as some would define it... but it is "normal" to us.

How did your child's diagnosis change your life?


SuperLittleMen said...

I can relate to so much you say in your post about Andrew and my son, and also wanted to comment on your thoughts about teachers needing more education. Isaac's teacher has always mentained Isaac has learning difficulties and aspergers, as her idea of ADHD is the child literally climbing the curtains and jumping off the top of the bookcases. Very reluctantly 6 weeks ago we agreed to a trial of medication, and the results have been dramatic, so much so at parents evening this same teacher couldnt get her words out fast enough about the change in him, and also admitted that she was wrong and perhaps he does have ADHD, and didnt realise the scope of it. I have always tried to explain it like the autistic spectrum, ADHD has its down spectrum, so lunch and learn session would be so good. I agre teacher, and other parents who just judge, should all be educated on ADHD.

Penny said...

This sounds almost identical to our story. We were in a Charter school for kindergarten -- lots of insinuations of bad parenting, no resources to help us discover.

My ADHD boy is also the sweetest kid you'd ever meet.

Here's our similar story: