Thursday, April 17, 2014
Brandon has always been full of energy. He loves to dance, sing, run, you name it. He's always been a normal, regular boy. When we moved to Utah and Brandon began attending his last year of preschool, something began to change. I would hear more and more about how he had trouble keeping quiet, listening to teachers, etc. As a teacher, and someone who prides myself on my child behaving, this news was very upsetting. It continued through the first half of his Kindergarten year, getting worse and worse.
We moved to Tooele, Utah in February of 2013 because I obtained a teaching job at a wonderful charter school; half-way through the school year. Even in this new, far more structured setting, Brandon was still having trouble talking out all the time, keeping his hands to himself, and was an overall disruption. I was devestated.
At one point, his teacher brought up the possibility of ADHD. I hadn't thought about it because Brandon was only 6, and he had just moved to a new, VERY different school. I was also MORTIFIED by the thought of ADHD. "Isn't that the "disorder" that doctor's diagnose every child with who can't sit still?" This was my first reaction. I let the thought go, and where Brandon was far from perfect, he made it through Kindergarten.
1st grade is when everything changed again. Brandon became THAT student in class. The student with the constant behavior problems. The student who had to sit by himself because he wouldn't leave those around him alone. The student who didn't realize that his actions have consequences. The student who had INCREDIBLE, PATIENT teachers, who came up with different ways each week to help him succeed in school. As a teacher, I knew exactly what this looked like because I know those students; I teach some of them every day. I had MANY conversations with his teacher, wondering about whether or not Brandon just didn't have a filter yet...or if there was more to it. Brandon is one of the smartest kids around. He reads at a 3rd grade level, he's in a 2nd grade math and spelling class....but the behavior thing just wasn't turning around. We have routines, rewards, consequences, nothing was working.
One day there was a student who I noticed was acting VERY differently than normal. This student is usually in control, quiet, but full of personality. This day the student was practically jumping off the walls. Later the student came up to me and let me know that they forgot to take their medication. I find out from the student's mom that this student has ADHD. Oh...it made total sense. I NEVER in a million years would've thought this student had ADHD, until they came to school without taking their medication. I continued to think about the possibilities of this regarding Brandon, but it was again pushed to the back of my mind.
The real "come to Jesus" moment came a few weeks later when one day after school, Brandon began telling me that he felt stupid. When I asked him why he felt that way, he said, "Because I can't sit still and everyone else can". He also continued to tell me that he didn't know WHY he can't sit still, or WHY he talks out...he just does.
I decided it was time to put my fears aside and begin researching what might by going on with Brandon. I needed to forget my worries and put Brandon first. SOMETHING JUST ISN'T RIGHT. Almost every other student in Brandon's class can control themselves enough to know when they should and shouldn't be talking; they can stop themselves from running in the hallway when a teacher reminds them not to; they can sit in their chair during class and not get up and begin wandering around...Brandon can't. I went online that night and began looking at the symptoms of ADHD. As I looked at sites that offered "check lists", the realization that this could be what's wrong became a reality to me. My answer was yes to every question. It was a more involved list than the one below, but these were the direction of many of the questions.
I sent the check list to Brandon's 3 main teachers at school and had them fill it out. They answered the questions more in depth, and then I decided it was time to find a doctor. A doctor? How do I find a doctor?!? Do I go local, in to Salt Lake? This idea stressed me out. And then I remembered the student from earlier. I spoke with this parent and she recommended her child's doctor, who has a lot of experience with this. And luckily, he's right here in Tooele. After meeting with a doctor, and spending quite a long time in his office talking all about how this is diagnosed, and what direction we would go if Brandon does have ADHD, he handed me a much more specific paper for each teacher, and Nick and I to fill out.
The doctor called back yesterday. Brandon does have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and falls into the category of hyperactivity, with a few impulsivity problems thrown in. Brandon doesn't struggle with inattentiveness, luckily. He's always been very organized, doesn't make careless mistakes, and is able to pay attention to details very easily. Where he fails is in acting without thinking, blurting out answers, unable to wait for his turn, often interrupts others or intrudes on their conversations, moves around constantly, and often leaves his seat where sitting quietly is expected. There were many others on the list, but these are the main symptoms.
The doctor that I'm working with is someone I can really stand behind. He told me that the most effective way to treat those with ADHD is a combination of medication; at the lowest effective dose, that provides more benefits than side effects, along with counseling. Not "sit on a couch and tell me your problems" counseling, but the type where he's put into real world situations and they talk with Brandon about what would be a better way to handle how he behaves. This would come after he's stable on a medication.
I have always been a big supporter of doctors and modern day medicine. I believe that God put these people on the Earth to help us. If not for the medications that I'm on today, I would be a zombie, sitting on my couch eating bon-bons all day long. I thank God every day for modern day medicine. Many people fear ADHD medication and wonder if it will change the personality of the child. I trust my God-given instincts as a mother, and I know that this is the right thing to do. Every child is different, so it may take a while to find the right medication, and the right dose. I understand that COMPLETELY. I've been riding the medication roller coaster for the past 15 years since I began having seizures.
I don't know what the future holds here. I'm hoping that Brandon won't be put on the same medication roller coaster that I've been on...but I doubt it. Luckily I have friends and family who support this decision.