Heading Into the Unknown

A little more than a year ago my oldest boy was diagnosed with ADHD. While I wasn't surprised, I must admit I had expected a learning disability to be diagnosised as well. After all, his struggles in school had been the sole reason we had had him tested. His continual challenges with reading and writing, not to mention his atrocious spelling, certainly indicated something wasn't quite working for him. In fact there was a period of time when I felt he might well have a touch of dyslexia.

Instead we got ADHD with additional comments about his slow processing speed and impaired visuomotor integration skills. Following the recommendations of the testing facility at UM-Ann Arbor, we began working with the school to incorporate some teaching aids into his curriculum. This meant we had to work with the special education coordinator, his teachers and the school psychologist.

We also had to follow up on additional testing recommended by the facility. He's since been tested by an Occupational Therapist and undergone some additional evaluations by the school psychologist. I know how the in-school testing went and the results were not good. He actually qualified for Special Education in relation to his composition skills. The child cannot write or spell worth a damn. Doesn't matter if he can verbally spell or tell the most amazing stories, he can't get them on paper. There's some kind of disconnect between his brain and his hand.

We'll find out what the Occupational Therapist had to say later today. I've been waiting a report that should have been sent to my home but ended up at our family doctor's instead. I have a feeling there will be some comments and recommendations regarding his "sensory input issues" as she mentioned them to me during the testing. So, really, I'm not expecting any surprises, perhaps some suggestions on satisfying his body's physical needs (apparently his purposeful tumbling and running into things is more than "goofiness" at play), but nothing too shocking or disturbing.

The more important reason for our visit today is to address the continual academic struggles his ADHD is causing. Yes, we're thinking about meds. Actually, we're past thinking about them, we're finally going to commit to giving them a try. Something we've been pretty resistant to the last year or so. However, there comes a point when you'll even try those things you never thought you would if means helping your child.

I have to admit I'm a little scared about doing this. I don't want my child to change. I love his personality. He's gentle and sweet and funny. If it weren't for his problems at school, all of which are academic in nature, he'd be darn near perfect. Well, as perfect as a 9-almost-10-year-old can be! I'm sure I'd still have to get after him for bouncing on the furniture, playing his music too loud, and rough-housing with this little brother. Perfect is a matter of opinion, though, and I think he's perfectly him.

Unfortunately, school matters. Grades matter. He is struggling right now and at a very real risk of having to repeat the Fourth Grade. No matter how much time we spend working with him, or how many different ways his teacher aids him, his grades are slipping. His distractability and inability to focus is become more and more noticeable. At least, I think so.

With all this in mind, we've decided to try medications. My doctor has assured me the dose will be time-released into his system and ineffective by about 1-3 PM. That means we'll have our child as we know him in the evenings, on weekends, and over any vacations. The meds are for school days only. Neither my husband nor I are willing to keep him doped up when it's completely unnecessary.