Sunday, June 21, 2009

Living with ADHD

I noticed recently that I often don't blog about John Jr. When John came to us 2 1/2 years ago our lives went into a tail spin. Many people say "that's a boy for you" or "your not used to boys" but it was so much more than that. John has from day one been mischievous, and we always say his cuteness is his saving grace! I can also remember the pediatrician early on talking about ADHD medications. I always blew him off on that topic. After all, I thought, John came to us after having lived in an orphanage for 2 or 3 years depending on when his birthday really is. Of course, he will have more to overcome. I cut him ALOT of slack.
As time went on.....things got worse. His behavior was TERRIBLE! Having two other children in the house...I couldn't let things go. I firmly believed I could love this boy enough to undo years of mistreatment in China. Well that didn't happen. Along with not listening came being defiant and shutting down totally. He would cross his arms and turn his head and he was done listening! I also thought eventually he will be tired of being sent to his room...wrong again! Although medical testing CLEARLY proves his birthdate is a year off.....even a 4.5 year old boy needs to have boundaries and rules. These are 2 things he could not do.
But since his birth certificate says he is 5.5 we enrolled him in the elementary school's pre- k program. Not ideal since it put him in Bella's class! Soon after he started school I started getting reports that he would spend all day being reprimanded and in time out....this breaks my heart!
John gets many pre school services: Speech, vision therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. At his annual meeting the discussion focused around whether or not he would need an aid in kindergarten. I felt so sad for him. Sad and frustrated all at the same time. His behavior at home was awful, his behavior at school was awful, he has been unable to make friends because he can not attend to ANY activity and he is always touching people...pulling on their shirts, touching their hair...He was very sensory!
Last month we had an appointment with a Neurologist. John was all over the office and the Dr could not examine him. John makes good eye contact and does interact he is not autistic. The doctor did note he does have many autistic tendencies though. He occasionally flaps and he does this thing where he shakes his body as if he is trying to pull himself together. No surprise that the doctor gave me an RX for ADHD medication. I came out of that office feeling like a total failure as a mother. Why could I not help him with out drugs. I changed his diet, I don't give him the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, I limit his sugar, food coloring, nitrates and anything else I think might contribute to his behavior.
I reluctantly gave him the first dose of medication on a Friday morning. On the way to school he was kicking my seat ( which I hate) and I said John...STOP! well he started to cry and then he said " mommy I sorry I do bad things still love me?" I actually had to stop the car .I ended up keeping him home that day. As the days went on, I noticed he had not been punished in days. He had ALL THIS KNOWLEDGE that we did not know about. He knows his phone number, his address, The city where John works and what he does. He knew the days of the week and what day it was. He went from scribbling his name where it was illedgible to writing John perfectly. He stopped touching people, he is able to play. He does 100 piece jig saw puzzles for hours. He can complete a task. He is still my goofy, silly boy with a hearty belly laugh and if he does something he shouldn't...A simple John...dont so that which he responds...ok mom!
HE SITS ON MY LAP AND WATCHES TV. That is something we never shared. He is not a cuddle bug like the girls and truthfully he could not sit still. He has not gotten so much as a warning at school and the teacher says he knows every rule and tries to follow it! My son has a quality to his life that he did not have before and for this I thank God every day. I know the jury is still out on medicating children for ADHD. But I am so at peace with my decision. It is certainly made a world of difference to my little boy!
If you made it to the do not have ADHD! I have not been blogging because we have been busy...I will try not to be such a stinky blogger!


Sharie said...

Giving that medicine to John was not a failure...I know you now realize what a success it was. I am crying for you now, not because I am sad for you, but because I am happy that you got little John the help he needed early in life and didn't wait for things to progress. You and John are wonderful parents and being willing to try something you were nervous about just proves that once again.

datri said...

{{hugs}} Carol. I know how hard it is to make that decision to put your kid on meds, especially for "behavioral" issues. It's not a failure in parenting, it's just how our kids were made. Laurie can't function without her meds. And I'm so glad that John is doing well and his true self is emerging.

Anonymous said...

Carol -- I can so relate to everything you wrote. Lydia has ADHD -- not the inattentive ADD that girls usually have, the impulsive, hyperactive ADHD that you so well described. We too tried everything to modify her behavior, with no success. Her impulsiveness actually made her a danger to herself many times. Our homelife was absolute chaos all the time. On top of that, she could not talk after 2 years of speech therapy. Our pediatrician finally brought up ADHD to us, and we reluctantly tried meds. Although things are not perfect, we've had huge improvements with the meds. The impulsiveness is gone, and like with John we were finally able to see that she really did know how to do a lot of things. And she started talking! I know that meds for ADHD get knocked a lot. If you've lived with a child with ADHD you know it's not hype, and you know how difficult it is on the whole family. I finally made my peace with the meds. After all, if she had diabetes or epilepsy we wouldn't hesitate for a second to give her the necessary meds. Have you ever read the research of what happens to kids who are not treated for their ADHD? Scarey stuff. You are definitely not a failure. You have loved that boy in the most difficult of times -- that is not a failure as a mom!

Ohilda said...

Oh Carol,

I am so happy that you followed your heart and not what others may think. You did what's best for your boy and your family, and VOILA...the outcome is exactly what everyone needed. Bless his little heart.

I'm sure we have some degree of ADHD going on around here, too...but for now, I am trying to cope with it.

Can't wait to meet your beautiful family in person!



Jill and Rick said...

Carol, I did not realize that you had all the issues with John. I'm sorry that things have been so hard. I think that you were an excellent mom to do everything you could to try to avoid the medication - but when they truly need it and it works for them, there is no failure. & now I'm really excited for John, knowing that he will now have opportunities that he couldn't have before, and I'm happy that he has to be feeling so much better!

Thanks for sharing your struggles and successes, Carol. It really does help families that may be experiencing struggles of their own.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for your honest posts. They really help those of us who are struggling. I don't think there is a back and white right or wrong, You did what is best for your child, and that is the best anyone can do! You are a wonderful mommy.

Sherrie said...


I'm sure it was a very tough decision to try the medication for John, but in no way can it be considered failure. I think failure would be to not try and help your child, and that is something that would never happen with your children, everyone knows you'd do anything for them. I'm so happy that John responded positively, what a relief it must be for him, and you and John as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Carol. I tried to email you back, but got a delivery failure.