Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

My oldest son suffers from ADHD.  It took me 5 years to accept the diagnosis and treat my son because I didn't believe it truly existed.  I would suffer for hours in the bathroom crying while my son tore the house upside down destructing everything in its path, treated his brothers cruelly and became more defiant to my husband and myself. 

The thing was, I didn't believe in this diagnosis.  I believed that all children had different outlets and levels of energy.  I believed that it was a stage and the tempers, tantrums and trashing would eventually stop.  I made excuses, "he's a free spirit", "a new soul", "he is just a boy", whatever would work at that moment.  It wasn't until I was called into a routine IEP meeting at the end of his kindergarten year that I woke up and realized that there was more to this behavior.  When the teachers and staff sat across from me and explained that they thought it was in my son's best interest to stay in kindergarten another year.  That's when I learned that the behaviors were being acted upon at school as well.  That's when I learned that my son and the principal were very close.  That's also when I learned that changing diets and exploring other options was not enough for my son.  I turned to medication.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done.  I did not want my child to rely on medication but I didn't want him  to stay back because of behavior and not grades.  I took him to his pediatrician who referred us to a neurologist, went through a lot of tests and his diagnosis was made.  I know many who would debate my decision to put my son on medication, that is not what this blog is about.  This is my starting point to help my son overcome or at least stand up to a lifetime disease.

Why did I wait so long to treat this disease?  Would I have waited if it was diabetes?  What caused me to think that this was any different and why did I allow his behaviors for those years to help mold who he is today?  Two years later, he is doing great in school.  He is still struggling in certain subjects but he also has a few other disabilities that stand in his way.  The thing is, that now he is maturing, he is focusing on what is important and although he still has his tantrums they are far and few in between.  He is finding his true personality, and is starting to find interests, something he struggled with beforehand.  The new problem...he thinks his medication makes him good.  When he goes a day or two without it, he reverts right back to the old and blames the fact that he didn't take his medication.  My new struggle is dependency.

I have been trying different methods with him lately to help with his focus, keep him more mindful.  I hope that as he matures the medication can be dropped and he can find other outlets to control himself.  So far we have tried, yoga, meditation, breathe control and focusing on colors.  Sometimes, something random helps that I would have never thought of trying, others I have found through the internet, books and other resources.  No matter what, we will work through this together with an open mind.

Dr. Christopher Willard, Psy. D., and author of the new book, Child's Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children Be More Focused, Calm, and Relaxed, has graciously offered to guest blog next weekend,  here at Mindful Moments about the topic of ADHD and Mindfulness Practices for children.  A psychotherapist at Tufts University, he has a doctorate in clinical psychology and his research focuses on the psychological applications of meditation and mindfulness practice.  I am very thankful that he found my little corner of the internet and has offered his expertise in this topic to my readers and myself.


**update 10/20/10**

Here is the link to Christopher Willard's guest post on ADD/ADHD.


Lisa said...

I know exactly how you feel--we went through it with our oldest (although he does not have the H piece, just ADD). Number one reason we didn't treat him sooner? Didn't want to rely on medication if there were other ways to solve the problem but really we didn't want the stigma of the label. Nor did I want him to be able lay the blame for any bad behavior on his disease. Something that really helped him was competitive swimming--it gobbles up energy and teaches discipline. A friend has had her son in martial arts with much the same effect. Good luck to you as you continue to work through this. I'm so glad to hear that school is going better for him!

Jo said...

I am so sorry but glad you've accepted his diagnosis after all the research and tests you've done for him. You are an incredible mom!

You are too Lisa!!!

Holli said...

I wish medication would have been an option for my brother back in the 70's or that this diagnosis existed period. He had SUCH a hard time in school because of ADHD and at home too. It was a hard childhood for him.

I'm glad you're finding a way to help your son!

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