Saturday, April 17, 2010
A few weeks ago I mentioned things had become a little difficult here in the Emerald City...but at the time I wasn't quite ready to share. It really isn't that catastrophic...at least not for those immediately involved. It was just difficult for me. And, you KNOW, its all about me. ;)
Anyway...I think I've finally worked through all of the emotions involved to the point where I'm ready to share. I would suggest grabbing a cup of java for this one. It is one, long, involved story.
We've been having some trouble with Nick lately. Actually, the truth is he's been struggling for some time...mostly in school.
In preschool he was constantly in trouble. But then he had Mrs. Whack-job for a teacher. She sent him to the Principal's office - every. single. day. Many days it for nothing more serious than not sitting still during reading circle time.
He never got in trouble for hitting anyone.
He never bit anyone.
He never really talked back to her.
He just didn't want to do things her way...and she couldn't handle it and refused to discipline within the classroom. So every day Nick would end up in the Principal's office...most times unbeknownst to us because it really wasn't that big of a deal. We finally determined it really was just a case of a really bad teacher and decided to move him into a part-time Pre-K program. He settled right down and responded well to the program. We had not one iota of a problem after that.
The next year in Kindergarten, things went pretty well. Actually they went really well until the end of the year when he started to get bored. He became more restless and disruptive. We worked out a program of daily updates and rewards for good behavior with the teacher. It worked with limited success, but it got us through the rest of the school year.
Last year, in first grade, we had one issue on the playground, which we quickly remedied with six notes of apology to everyone involved - from the kids, to their parents, the teacher and the superintendent. There wasn't so much as a hint of a problem afterwards. (He really hated writing those notes.)
This year has been a different story. It feels as if Nick has returned to preschool where nothing he does is ever good enough. The teacher is constantly on his back and he just doesn't see the benefit of doing what she wants him to do.
We tried working with the teacher. We asked her to send us daily updates as we did in kindergarten and implemented a reward system that he seemed more interested in. And it worked, for awhile. But the teacher horribly inconsistent about sending home notes...and without the regular rewards for good behavior, Nick lost interest.
She finally convinced us to have a re-eval of his IEP...complete with psychological testing and a battery of other tests.
Quite frankly, I was ticked.
This was the same teacher that was convinced there was something wrong with Alek when she had him. She insisted that we have a battery of testing done, which eventually identified him as having Auditory Processing Disorder. Three years later that 'diagnosis' was lifted. Grab Your Lasso determined he didn't have any of the signatures of the disorder and felt he was fine. (This is not a disorder you 'get over', although you can acquire coping mechanisms.)
This year, Alek, who she had so many issues with, is getting straight A's. And really, not so much straight A's, as HIGH straight A's. The boy either never had an issue to begin with, or developed some seriously amazing, miraculous coping skills.
When Nick's tests came back, they proved what we've known all along. He's bright...there are no cognitive delays or learning disabilities...there was nothing identified except for a language delay which is being addressed in his IEP along with his speech.
Not satisfied, she asked that we have Nick evaluated for ADHD. She was SURE that was what was wrong.
Honestly, we didn't see the issues she sees at school. At home, he obeys us. He listens to us. He really isn't that much to handle. Yes, he is active...but he's a boy. Yes, he squirms in his chair...but he's a BOY! Yes, he has a hard time following directions, hates doing homework and finds it almost impossible to finish a task without being reminded 3-trillion times, but HE. IS. A. BOY!
We agreed to fill out the questionnaires, but hesitated to take them to our doctor. Instead, we struggled for awhile, trying to get along with the teacher, trying to make sure Nick held up his end of the relationship and just trying to limp our way through the end of the school year so he could move on to third grade and to a new, much better teacher.
And then she dropped a bombshell.
At our bi-annual parent/teacher conference last month, she said, flat out, she didn't know if she could pass Nick. It wasn't his ability - it was his 'attitude.' His attitude was inhibiting his ability to learn what he needed to learn...and if she sent him on to third grade, she was afraid he would get even further behind.
I think Nick got wind of it because within a few days he was talking about how he hated school and started talking negatively about himself.
That was it. I wasn't going to put up with it anymore. We decided to take him and forms in to his pediatrician. I was convinced there wouldn't be an issue...that it was all in the teacher's approach to Nick. Nick didn't respect her because of her attitude toward him...and her teaching style (very similar to his preschool teacher).
I was wrong.
Dr. B took one look at the forms from the teacher, some other teachers and ourselves, and said he was ADD...possibly ADHD. Did we want to put him on medication?
It was if she had slapped me across the face.
I took the prescription and drove over to the pharmacy in a bit of a daze. After I plunked the $60 for a 30-day supply of Concerta, it hit me.
My kid has ADD.
Honestly? I've been struggling the last few weeks. I'm feeling a bit of the same old funk I felt when we first brought Maddie home. When we went to Ukraine to bring home a child, we were fully expecting to adopt a healthy child with no physical issues. Sure, there would be developmental problems, but those would all magically go away with just some love, time and extra help.
Then, after the initial joy of bringing Maddie home wore off, and the reality of her disability sunk in, I entered a bit of a funk. It actually may have been a bit of PAD (Post-Adoption Depression). I was overwhelmed with her needs...and really had no idea how to help her, where to turn for that help. This take-charge girl who has never struggled to make a decision a day in her life, was suddenly paralyzed with indecision. I couldn't even decide to pick up the phone and call Children's Hospital to get her an appointment, people. That's how serious it was.
And here I was again, feeling paralyzed. Uncertain of what to do...and where to turn. My son has a life-altering disability...and I was barely able to decide to pick up his prescription. I found myself longing for the days when Nick was a little guy and I could make his pain go away just by kissing his boo-boos, putting on a band-aid and sending him back outside to play.
ADD is a life-time thing. He may be struggling with this for the rest of his life. And all I can do is buy him a prescription. No amount of hugging, kissing or reassuring will make it go away.
The blessing is, the medicine seems to be working. He's on the lowest dose available and the first day he took the meds, the teacher called absolutely thrilled. He was behaving like a model second-grader. A week later she reported if he keeps this up she won't have any problem passing him.
This week she reported absolutely no problem.
Of course she says that (I think snidely), she's finally gotten what she's wanted. The perfect little boy who sits still, hangs on her every word and whom she doesn't have to discipline in any way shape or form or really even pay any attention to.
I, on the other hand, am left with a shadow of my former son. I keep worrying Nick's personality is changing...that the meds are robbing me of the little boy I came to know and love. I don't necessarily think he's over medicated - he's not in a daze. But he's quiet...unnaturally so. He's not nearly as active - I'm having a hard time to get him to go outside and play ball. And he certainly isn't the life-loving, joke-telling, vivacious little boy I had three weeks ago.
I don't want Nick to change. Sure I would like to have him be easier to parent...but I would much rather have him be the little boy God created him to be.
And then I start worrying about Maddie.
She's even more active, inattentive and distractable than Nick.
Is she next? Will they urge us to have her tested? Will we find that the only way to get our kids through the Emerald City school system is to medicate them to the point that we don't recognize them anymore?