I don’t remember exactly how old Noah was when it started to become obvious that he was different than some of his friends. Mostly it was his activity level. He was impulsive, he was aggressive, he had trouble sitting still, he would freak out at loud noises. I think he was 3 when one of our friends who is an OT asked if we had ever had him tested for Sensory Integration Disorder. I looked it up briefly online but brushed it off because I didn’t see that he met the science mumbo-jumbo definition that I had found.
In preschool his behavior started to cause some problems. Mostly getting him to finish the work, not distract the other kids. But it’s preschool right. We pushed through, did our best. We tried everything to motivate him, rewards, consequences, bribery. You name it and we gave it a shot.
By then (at 5) as I had done more reading about Sensory Integration Disorder or SID (specifically the book "The Out of Synch Child") I became keenly aware that he DID, in fact, meet many of these criteria. We tried to implement some things at home to help with is activity level and to give him more sensory input. They helped, a little, but not enough.
Kindergarten was a roller coaster. Suddenly it was 7 hours of school every day. He had the most wonderful teacher who was great about working with him and making accomodations, but she also had a class full of kids. We finally got him "officially" evaluated and diagnosed with SID. We thought that perhaps we could get him OT services through the school district. Well, because he does not have a learning disability (quite the opposite, he is VERY bright) we weren’t eligible. The OT who did the evaulation also recommended that we have him evaluated for an auditory processing disorder and by a child psychologist and gave us 2 names. The APD eval turned out negative, he was good.
The appt with the child psychologist was a 6 month wait, it was just the end of August when we finally had that appointment. By this time we had become keenly aware that Noah was way more "emotionally reactive" than his peers who were the same age. He gets easily frustrated, cries easily, can have full blown kick, scream, pound the floor temper tantrums. The psych had us fill out lengthy questionairre, as well as having his kindergarten teacher fill one out. She then spent an hour with Noah talking with him, giving him an IQ test, etc.
The diagnosis: ADHD
Recommendation: See a child psychiatrist to talk about meds, get some counseling for him and the family
So in the 6 weeks since that appt. we have done a lot of research on ADHD, the meds, the other alternatives all of it. I think that ADHD has gotten somewhat of a bad rap and I, like many others, tend to think that it’s over-diagnosed. When the reality is that most of it is that it just gets a lot of media attention. True there are some on meds who don’t need to be but it doesn’t discount the kids who truly need them. But it also wasn’t something we wanted to rush into.
Yesterday we met with the child psychiatrist who was a really nice woman. She talked with my husband and I and Noah together. She ran through a list of questions and asked if it happens "never, sometimes, often, very often".
Her conclusion agreed with the other doctor on the ADHD diagnosis. She said that kids who score a 25 or above on the "test" met the criteria. Noah scored a 46. After talking about various drugs with her we decided on Adderall for a couple of reasons – 1) it’s long lasting, 10-12 hours so he’ll only have to take it in the morning at home 2) it comes in the lowest dosage so we can start there and evaluate 3) it comes in a couple of different forms including the patch (very new) and a capsule with micro-beads in it which can be sprinkled on applesauce or something.
We left with a prescription for the capsule and had it filled last night. This morning the micro-beads got sprinkled on chocolate pudding – I know, not great breakfast food but what can I say, I need to go to the grocery store.
And I breathlessly waited until 3:30 to hear how his day went. We are thrilled beyond words at the difference. He was the first to finish his math homework and got his name put on the trustworthy chart (a first for the year). His teacher called tonight to give us a report (she knew about the meds) and said he had an incredible day. He didn’t fidget. He did all his work. They were writing letters to the governor (he hates to write) and he wrote a great letter without the usual many prompts. When she called him aside at the end of the day to tell him how proud she was he stood quietly, listened and made eye contact with her the whole time (nearly unheard of).
I know it’s not a cure-all and it won’t be the end of our struggles but I am so proud and so elated for HIM. Because I know how incredible smart and sensitive he is and I know how discouraging it was for him to struggle so. He has amazing potential and I know that God has an incredible plan for his life. There have been many times when I have cried out to Him when I didn’t think I could handle another 60 minute homework session (for 10 minutes of work). But as always, he is faithful to walk alongside us in this journey and help guide us.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer 29:11-13