THIS HERE THAT ICE COLD, MICHELLE PFEIFER, THAT WHITE GOLD! THIS HERE FOR THEM…
…Oh…wait. I was writing a blog post. Sorry! I have ADHD so I can be distractible.
Pineapple has ADHD, too. It’s taken several years of speech language therapy, frustrated meetings with doctors and preschool teachers, and a MISERABLE half year of kindergarten to get to this point but we’ve arrived.
Pineapple has been diagnosed with severe (like off-the-charts) ADHD. And if you know anyone with ADHD, or maybe have it yourself, you might understand that along with a true diagnosis comes some other issues, as well. In our case, we’re looking at Oppositional Defiant Disorder (unlike how it sounds, it essentially means that because she has trouble focusing, once she focuses enough to make a plan, she is LOCKED in and if you CHANGE those plans…the fans can get pretty shitty, if you know what I mean), speech-language delay (which was initially caused by her hearing loss from ear infections but is perpetuated by her inability to pay attention), and some gross motor issues (like hugging her friends too hard).
We’ve been seeing a specialist for months and have tried everything from changing her diet and sleeping patterns to new discipline methods (timers don’t last long in our house…wonder why?), and reward methods (SO MANY STUFFED ANIMALS AND STICKERS). And absolutely none of it worked. NONE.
And it’s been awful. Like crying, gnashing teeth, and pulling hair miserable. And that’s just my reaction to everything. Pineapple has been stressed out and sad – frustrated and angry – and has really started hating going to school. (I gotta be honest here…I’m frantically looking forward to the end of the year myself…and this is KINDERGARTEN for-the-LOVE!)
So, a couple of weeks ago, after meeting with the school specialists, the psychologist she visits each week, and her pediatrician, we pulled the medication trigger.
I know. Believe me, I know. I know what you’re thinking. “You’re medicating your kid?! How could you?! You’re awful! The terrible choice you are making will stamp out her unique and amazing personality! Think of what it does to her little body! Why can’t you just try harder/be more patient/put her in private school/have a specialist move in to your home and stay with her all day/accept her as she is/stop trying to make her fit in some mold that clearly doesn’t work for her/BE A BETTER PARENT?!”
I know you’re thinking these things because I’ve thought all of them. Twice. At 3AM. While crying. And praying. And wondering what on EARTH is the best thing to do.
And then I asked Pineapple.
I sat her down and I said “if you had something that would help you at school to pay attention, and learn, and not hurt your friends, and not leave the room, would you want that?” She started crying and said “yes, please.”
Bear in mind, she’d come home several times the weeks prior saying things like “I can’t control my body!” and “I’m so sorry I can’t behave at school.” She had begun to recognize that she isn’t just like all the other kids. She’s her and she’s different and she does things in her own way. We’ve never told her she’s “bad” or “not good” – she’s picking this stuff up from the other kids. It’s impacting her socially and emotionally.
And that’s when I made the choice. If she needed glasses, would I get them for her? Yes. If she needed insulin, would I buy it? Yep. If she needed an inhaler, wouldn’t she have one? For sure.
So why not this?
After EXHAUSTIVE talks with the pediatrician and a late night perusal of WebMD (followed immediately by more talks with the pediatrician), we made the choice.
And guess what…it was the right one.
She’s able to focus better. She’s listening. She’s paying attention. She’s LEARNING. She’s WRITING (please understand, a few weeks ago, she really wasn’t). She’s not hurting her friends – as often (nobody is perfect and she just “loves them SO much!”). She’s getting praise and gold stars and she’s not disrupting the whole class all day long. We were told last month that she was attentive and engaged about 50% of the day…that’s only half. That means the other half she was distracting the kids around her (disrupting THEIR ability to learn) and not absorbing any information for herself.
She’s still stressed about her behavior but the difference is, she’s recognizing that she has the ability to control that now. It’s not something she “just can’t help.” It’s something she can change.
I’m so proud of my little ADHD girl. And I’ve decided to stop blaming myself – even though it’s hereditary and I’m the one with ADHD. It’s her life and her experience. Not mine. I just have to give her the tools she needs to be successful. For now, it’s her medication. Maybe one day in the coming months, now that she’s able to focus and make some changes for herself, we can start moving away from medication to more therapy-guided changes. But for right now…today and the next however many days…this is working. And I’m GLAD we did it.
Someday I’ll share some stories of my own struggles with ADHD (alienation, feeling alone, having others point out how different I am, the embarrassment, losing focus, and feeling lazy, stupid, and nuts – there’s actually a book called “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Crazy, or Stupid?!” and it’s a good book). In the meantime, I’m proud of DH and I for making this IMPOSSIBLY difficult decision and supporting our sweet Pineapple in any way we can so she can be happy and successful at this game called life.
And just in case you were wondering, her crazy/incredible personality is perfectly in tact. In fact, as she wore her purple ball gown and slippers while creating pointillism art last night, she looked at me and said “I’m a very good artist!” And she TOTALLY is!