A collection of my experiences, both in and out of the kitchen, spiced with the flavors of life.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Putting it all out there...
See that sweet face up there? Yes, I realize he is only 3 here, but that's not the point. The point is that my sweet, affectionate, curious and highly-intelligent son is possessed. I don't mean in the traditional Satanic and demonic way; but in a very real way, known to the general public as ADHD.
I can't even tell you when it first started, or when I began to notice that things were just "not right." Nathan talked early, and talked well. Once he started, he never stopped. Ever (except for sleep!). But I didn't see anything wrong with it; in fact, it was a comfort for me that on nights he couldn't/didn't fall asleep easily, I could hear him chattering away to himself in his bed--there was very little fussing or crying. I do believe he would talk himself to sleep. Now there is no quiet unless he is sleeping.
Nathan was also able to entertain himself for long periods of time (upwards of 45 min as a toddler). It meant I could do housework, cook a meal, or <gasp> read a book. However, when it came time for him to sit still for others (ie, circle time at school) he couldn't. It wasn't even a matter of wouldn't. He was/is physically unable to sit still (not to mention quietly) unless it is of his own choosing. Even now, the only times he sits for any length of time are when he is reading (again, there is quiet) or when he is in front of his computer. I also noticed that he started playing with his fingers (putting one fingernail under another, chewing or picking at the skin around his nails). He is easily distracted and has a hard time focusing on things. I chalked it up to him being "all boy." And some of that is true. But his inability to sit/be still has caused problems, and I fear it will continue to do so when he attends "real" school in the fall.
He is impulsive, prone to mood swings and tantrums, and sometimes out-right rude and out of control. One of the most difficult things for me is that I dont' know which Nathan I will get when he wakes in the morning. He is destructive, especially when angry, and cannot be trusted not to demolish things. He can be physically abusive to family, friends, and schoolmates. I don't believe that it is all malicious, though certainly some, if not most, of it is. Rather, I believe he sees it as a science experiment--what will happen to X if I do/say/ Y. He sees the consequence(s) of his action as a scientific result, not as an "I did something bad, and deserve to be reprimanded."
We have tried charts, points, rewards, goals, counting to 3 (which has by far been the most effective), loss of privileges, sending him to his room. When these things failed, I knew it was time to seek professional help. We started seeing a therapist here in town--she helped me tweak some of the behavior modifications that I had tried. That helped some. By this time, hubby and I were seriously thinking about medicating Nathan. Did we really want to medicate a child under the age of 5? What if the medication(s) didn't help, or made things worse? Was there anything else we could try? Sadly, we were not able to come up with any other alternatives. Just after the new year started, Nathan started taking a non-stimulant. The side effects were minimal. Unfortunately, the benefits were as well. Now, with his 5th birthday imminent, we are planning to "celebrate" by getting a prescription filled for a stimulant.
Now, if you are still reading, thank you! I am sharing this because I need people to know that my child is not a monster. I am so sorry if my child ever hurt yours--I can't begin to say how sorry I am, because it can never be enough. He is not a bad kid. He is not a bully. I don't want him to be the one parents roll their eyes at upon seeing him. I want him to have friends. I want him to feel like a normal kid, whatever that means. I want him to be successful in school, and whatever else he may want to try (sports, chess, gardening, etc).
I also need for people to understand how exhausting and frustrating it can be as a parent in this situation. I have left work (with kids in tow) in tears. I go to sleep crying some nights. I get angry, irritable, and mean. I yell at my kids. I pop Nathan's hands and behind. I don't like it. I hate being angry with him. It is NOT his fault, or mine, that he is this way. I wish I could wave a magic wand to bring back my sweet child. I know he is still there, for I see glimpses of him every now and then.