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gate, crate, bait and umm...update!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Pop," Shad says.
"Bed," Maddie replies.
"No, Maddie," Shad patiently replies. "Not bed...Pop. Try again."
It's a daily game. Shad sits in the recliner with a bag of M&Ms working with Maddie to help her overcome the one linguistic challenge she just can't seem to master. Rhyming.
We haven't really been able to put our finger on why she can't rhyme. At first we thought it was that she simply couldn't grasp the concept...so we gave her examples. Nope.
Then we thought it might be that she couldn't hear the sounds, but she can copy what we're saying nearly verbatim.
Then I had an epiphany.
When we first brought Maddie home from Ukraine and we were in Grab-Your-Lasso, the speech pathologist talked about how we had to train Maddie how to listen for sounds. We had to teach her what a car sounded like, to listen for that noise a train makes and to hear the clump, clump, clump of heavy boots in the hall.
For months, maybe even the first year, every new sound Maddie came across had to be identified and defined.
I'm wondering if its the same concept. Maddie isn't listening for the rhymes. For kids with hearing disabilities the ending sounds are often the most difficult to identify. If you can't hear them, you can't identify them. And while Maddie's hearing aid has opened up her world, I am convinced there are some things she's still missing.
And the ends of words, and the beauty of rhyming is one of them.
That's just one example of the struggles we've been through in the last year with Maddie. Actually, its not so much a struggle as it is a...hmmm....I don't really know what to call it. It certainly isn't stressful. It's more frustrating. But it's not her fault, so there's no one to blame. It's just there...and we have to deal with it.
We have had quite a few more.

After Nick's ADHD diagnosis last year we got to thinking...'If NICK is ADHD, Maddie is OFF. THE. CHARTS.
We've been wondering for quite some time, but after going through the checklist for Nick it became absolutely apparent that Maddie is a classic case of ADHD.
Last year in Kindergarten she struggled with not only staying on task, but sitting still for any length of time, getting in people's faces, eating her lunch without jumping up and down and yelling.
It was as if at school she became a completely different child.
She WANTED to be good. Oh, how she wanted to be good. She TRIED to be good. She really, really did. But she couldn't help herself. There was something deep, deep inside that insisted...no, more like demanded to be let out.  
For the longest time Shad and I struggled with how to handle it. We discussed it with her, we disciplined her, we changed her diet...we tried everything. But even with us practically sitting on her at home (metaphorically speaking of course), she had a hard time doing what was expected and acting in an appropriate manner. At school it became absolutely impossible.
The last straw was the softball incident this summer. As I watched the other kindergartners listen to the coaches, acting appropriately, being able to pay attention long enough to hit the ball, it became painfully aware that Maddie wasn't even CLOSE to being on target.
Not. even. close. And it broke my heart.
So I did something at one point I swore I would never do. I called the doctor and set up a meeting to talk about Maddie and my belief that she had ADHD.
You have to remember that with Nick I was convinced he didn't have it. If anything, it was ADD...he just needed help concentrating. So when we had his appointment, I went in there convinced he wouldn't even qualify. He just needed more time (and a better teacher) and he would be just fine.
I KNEW there was something wrong with Maddie. The doctor agreed. After looking at our survey, talking to Maddie's kindergarten teacher and observing her behavior she agreed to put her on the same medication that Nick takes.
What. A. Difference. It's not even the same child, I'm telling you! Maddie started her second year of kindergarten a month later. After the first day Mrs. B called and was convinced we had done something more than just medicate her. 
At our first parent/teacher conference she and the specialists went on and on about how different of a child she was. How she couldn't get enough learning now. How she could sit and listen to a whole story during circle time. How her handwriting was now legible...how she no longer got in people's faces during recess and didn't steal anyone else's food at lunch...she was actually making REAL FRIENDS!
Wow. I didn't realize it was as bad as all of that!
The beauty of it is that, unlike Nick, the medicine takes just the edge off Maddie. It slows her down enough to help her concentrate, without diminishing her her bubbly personality. For the first time, she can sit still long enough to do a paper. She's not fighting the teachers anymore. She's not jumping up during music and running down the hall away from the music teacher.
It wasn't as if we didn't do anything about her bad behavior last year. Shad even left work one day to go to the school (30 minute drive each way) to administer some discipline. But threatening to call the parents only goes so far. 
This year we haven't had one incident. Not. one.
She is golden, the teachers say. A completely different child...in a good way. Everyone is enjoying her this year and the best part is...she's learning!

11 salty messages:

Tina in CT December 4, 2010 at 10:28 AM  

So glad to hear that the meds have helped. I don't understand why some people have blinders on or if their child is diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD, they won't give them the medication. It must be so frustrating for the child trying to concentrate, etc. Sounds like Maddie is doing beautifully.

Kristy December 4, 2010 at 10:34 AM  

yay Maddie!!!! Have you looked into early steps for Maddie? It's a great reading program and completely helped Nadya get caught up.

Bethany December 4, 2010 at 12:40 PM  

Wow. What a relief it must be to know she has what she needs. And, she still sounds super fun. I so want to meet her someday. :) Go, Maddie!

BTW, I'm sure you already have this, but Dr. Seuss's Hop on Pop might be repetitive enough that she can hear better. And be able to see the similarities at the same time. That whole book is rhyming words. Good luck.

Annie December 4, 2010 at 7:59 PM  

What breaks my heart is thinking of children getting IN TROUBLE....having parents called, being DISCIPLINED, PUNISHED - and all for something they CANNOT control.

But, in Maddie's case - Alleluia! Because it sounds as though she really wants to do the things she is now capable of doing.

Courtney December 6, 2010 at 9:33 AM  

Alex also really, REALLY struggles with rhyming. We figured out with him we had to teach him rhyming visually first before he could "hear" it. So we worked on matching rhyming words first (drawing lines between words that match), then on writing rhyming words (give him a written word, he writes the ending sound then comes up with an appropriate initial sound), and now we're just getting to the part where he can come up with rhymes orally.

lookingforgeorge December 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM  

I had the same thought about Hop on Pop. The other thought I had? If she never learns to rhyme, well, worse things could befall a person. :)

Jill December 7, 2010 at 5:49 PM  

Iryna has ADHD. I guess it's common if they have FAS, which she has. She's on adderral which is helping A LOT! Hang in there! :D

mrsbroccoliguy December 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM  

Zeeb also had trouble with rhyming and I agree, it has to do with not "hearing" the words... though in his case it wasn't his ears so much as the filter of a 2nd language that threw him off.

Tina... some parents (like me) choose not to medicate because our child's ADHD isn't to the level of Maddies and other (nutritional, behavioral, etc.) options are working. Please try not to judge from the outside.

And Tami, HOORAY for finding the solution that worked for Maddie! :)

SG December 11, 2010 at 2:38 AM  

OK Middle of the night blood sugar check on Ek and can't sleep. checking blogs. Not being able to rhyme also speaks to phonological sensitivity issues. it is also an early sign of dyslexia. Don't faint. it doesn't have to be all bad. My oldest had issues with this. From 1st to 3rd grade she had some intense language therapy at a local university. Now at age 12 she reads on a 12 grade level, loves school, and makes all As and Bs. EARLY INTERVENTION is key. Read up on phonological sensitivity.

kate January 4, 2011 at 7:19 AM  

Rhyming. Oi. We struggle with that, too. She's great at identifying words that START with the same sound...

Glad Mad (tee hee) has had a successful experience with her meds.

Stephanie January 12, 2011 at 6:08 AM  

I have 3 kids with ADHD.
But my daughter showsa the most difference on medicine. Off medicine she can barely function. Stumbles,trips,shouts,drops things,really messy writing,immature behavior,argues,fallsout of her chair etc....she's a mess!!! On meds she's like any other 9 yr old girl... she still has her moments of being a tween, but she's teachable, fun to be around, coordinated etc. It's amazing. My boys the difference is more sutle...kind of like just slows them down enough for them to think about their actions. All three of my kids with ADHD have a very difficult time rhyming... even my 12 yr old! I wonder if it's related?

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