Your Son Has ADHD

8 comments

We had our suspicions. It’s been on our minds for two years. The neurologist had told us, the first time we expressed just how active our almost three year old was, that kids with seizure disorders have a high occurrence of ADHD but it was just too early to know. He was too young.

But now, those typical little boy behaviors are becoming not so typical and it’s time to come to terms with the fact that Max has ADHD. Those words were almost harder for me to hear than learning he had epilepsy.  There is such a social stigma attached to ADHD. I am already having a really hard time emotionally parenting a child with special needs, never mind trying to navigate through a diagnosis of something that some people feel doesn’t even exist.

So now, we have to decide on whether to medicate or not. We have to learn about side effects and how ADHD meds will interact with his seizure meds. There will be meetings to have and treatments to figure out and a brand new roller coaster ride to go on.

I have so many questions running through my head.

1. Is ADHD a behavioral issue or a medical issue? Is it like his epilepsy where his brain is firing off messages that make him behave in a certain way or does he just need to be disciplined differently?

2. Who do I believe? Should ADHD be treated with medication in child this young? What if we haven’t exhausted all other options? What if there is some sort of behavior treatment that will work?

3. What if this is a temporary phase like Dr. Rao describes in his book and we’re medicating for something that will go away on its own?

4. What if we do put Max on the meds and his happy go lucky personality changes? What if he starts having trouble sleeping or eats even less than he already does?

5. Will people be sympathetic and empathetic toward us or will they judge us for medicating such a young child?

 6. How will Max do next year in Kindergarten? Will his teacher understand him or consider him to be just another behavior problem or overmedicated child?

7. How does all of this impact Ben? Sweet Ben who is so loving and trusting of his brother that kicks and bites and hits him; that he wants to be near him all the time but has nightmares about at night? When will he start to rebel against the fact that most of the household decisions are made based on his brother?

 I’m reaching out to you for help. What are good reliable online resources or books to read? Do you have a child with ADHD or know someone who does? Any advice is appreciated.

8 comments on “Your Son Has ADHD”

  1. I am totally overwhelmed by the support all of you have provided on this post. I am so grateful that I’ve started blogging here (thanks Michelle!).

    Kate, as I go to our doctor’s appointment today to learn more about meds etc., I’m going to alter my state of mind. Any decision we make is the right one for us; the right one for Max. If we have to alter that decision in the future, so be it. Thank you for that nugget.

    Michelle, thanks for the support and the resources.

    Susannah, your story really does inspire me. Part of my hesitation is what all of this means for Max as an adult so thanks for reaching out.

    Pamela, excellent advice. We know that a combo of meds and therapy (for us as parents as well as for Max) is likely the way to go to help all of us learn coping skills and to help Max’s brain and body find peace with each other.

  2. Excellent article!
    I am the lead researcher in the Faux ADHD study published by the American Journal of Family Therapy (see fauxadhd.org ) where we found evidence that several million U.S. children taking ADHD meds probably did not have ADHD. In our study we found that the problem was connected to bedtime routines, and the results morphed into Goodnights Now (see amazon.com). One cannot help wonder if the youngster that you followed was more of a victim of uncertainty in his life than victim of a medical disorder or a misdiagnosis. As a practitioner, I support the appropriate use of medication for accurately diagnosed ADHD. However, it ‘s a pity that so many children are on ADHD meds without the proper diagnosis, which must include the critical questions, “Is your child sleeping in his or her own bed every night” or “Does your child have a regular bedtime?”

    Your article has great value in learning more about the causes of ADHD and the impact of its diagnosis–accurate or inaccurate. I am requesting that a link to your site be placed on the Goodparentgoodchild.www website as well as our own.

    Robert Pressman, Ph.D.
    Director of Research
    New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

  3. Your thoughtful questions are evidence that your child is in good hands. No parent can be sure of all our decisions, and no parent can know the future for our children. Part of special-needs parenting, in particular, is coming to accept how much we cannot know, and giving ourselves and our children opportunities to learn as we go. Sometimes things become much clearer along the way. Plus…our kids keep changing, so our decisions may change over time, and we change, too, as we grow and gain experience with each individual child. I have 3 pieces of advice that I would humbly offer: Stop several times today to just breathe deeply and let yourself begin to settle slowly into this news; consider consulting a neuropsychologist, or a developmental pediatrician, or a specialist in ADHD, if you are not comfortable talking about your concerns with your current professional; and try to remember to simply enjoy your son! This label changes nothing about who he is. It just creates opportunities for interventions to consider, if you feel they might help him and your family. He is and will forever be your very own Max. No labels can ever define him, or you.

  4. On so many levels, I commend you. I commend you for the courage to ask the questions, to openly confess to being without answers and to share your fears for yourself and your family. Mothers are expected to not only know it all but to also get it right every time. We are judged endlessly which further propels the desire to get it right every time. At the end of the day, there is no right way. There is no formula. We, as individuals (big and small), are as unique as the cells that built us and there is no perfect broad brush approach. Ever. Find peace with that to start and know that whatever plan you develop is not final. It can have an ebb and flow and in the end, that will be fine. I am a 38 year old woman who was diagnosed with ADD (they left the H out back then) as a child and was treated with Ritalin. At the time it was an EXTREMELY contraversial drug. People were jumping off buildings because of it. I was much older than Max and very self aware and had very overwhelming concerns that the drug would change me. I remember asking my doctor if I would be different and if my friends would still know me. His response was simple: you will be different, but not in a way that anyone will ever notice. He was right. I had become known for my distractibility and restlessness and inability to focus and through my treatment I was able to complete tasks and homework and be more productive. I excelled, but was still very much me. It was a calculated risk for my family to chart this course but it paid large dividends. You have to pick a path and just see where it goes. There will always be another intersection ahead. You can always decide to try another route. You will always be a great mom and you will always be loved.

  5. I also don’t have any specific advice but I totally agree with Kate. You are a strong woman and an incredible mother. We are all here for you and support you, whatever path you go down.

    I’m sure others will have more specific info/advice for you, but I just want you to know that you are doing a great job and we are so, so happy to have you here as part of our community.

  6. I don’t have any advice, but I couldn’t read without responding and offering a big (((HUG))).
    You have so much you’re dealing with ~ I can’t help but think what a strong individual you must be, as well as being such a dedicated Mama. Sending peace and CLARITY your way.

    (Just one thought…what if you made your decisions KNOWING that you can’t get it wrong, that whatever direction you take is the one you’re SUPPOSED to take. And if that doesn’t work out, you can change direction ~ it doesn’t mean it was wrong, it was just an exploration and learning experience and something that will help others. Your son is a magical person. He knew what he was getting into and he can absolutely handle it. You can’t get it wrong, Mama.)

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