Sunday, February 15, 2015

a new angle

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were called in for an appoitment with Kai's teacher. That's never a good feeling! She has been really concerned with his school work and behaviour, saying that he has missed a lot of school and isn't completing work. We had talked to her about this in the Fall, but we thought things had gotten better.  She is worried that his schoolwork is failing due to health issues as he's falling asleep in class and is basically a zombie and not seeming to take in any information.  

We have troubles with him at home with getting to bed on time, generally listening to us at all really, with doing any time of chore or task. He also has NEVER been bothered with consequences, which makes things difficult. He'll throw a temper tantrum at first (and, yes, he is 11yrs old), but be stubborn enough that he won't be bothered by it later. We have been struggling with finding a way to deal with him, but everything seems to turn into a fight. It's been rough.

Other than the usual stuff that we already knew about...his teacher mentioned something that completely surprised me. She wondered if he has ADHD! The funny thing is that my husband agreed it was a possiblity. I'm not saying that it is NOT possible...I was just so surprised as it had never crossed my mind before! However, I looked online and found the list of symptoms on the Mayo Clinic site and was surprised at how much of a possibility it is!

 Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been called attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in the past. But ADHD is now the preferred term because it describes both of the primary features of this condition: inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.
Signs and symptoms of ADHD may include:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
  • Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities
  • Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toys
  • Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Frequently fidgets or squirms
  • Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
  • Excessively talkative
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others' conversations or games
  • Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn
( see here for more information:  )

In our meeting, the teacher had also included the school Special Needs Coordinator, who deals with ADHD students. We had never met her before, or even knew her name, and she hadn't met with Kai before this meeting either, but the teacher thought it would be good to bring her in just for an assessment.  We were fine with that because this problem was starting to become something bigger than we had thought it would be. While we didn't know he was having this much trouble in class (his teacher said that one week he was such a "zombie" that she didn't even know if he even learned or listened to a thing that whole five days, and thought it may have been a write off in terms of usefulness. Wow. Harsh. Bigger that we thought.)  we did know that he was becoming more difficult at home. So many late nights, so much frustration and anger and temper tantrums, and so much arguing and causing fights. He made car rides so stressful! And we were at our wits end with what to do for him, but knowing something had to change!

At the end of our appointment, the SN gave us a questionaire to fill out. One for us and one for his teacher. And, just like in filling out one for Rhys and his special needs, I found it hard. You have to sit there and focus on all the possible negative qualities your child has, and it is tough on a mommy heart. Some of the questions were surprising, such as "has your child ever stolen when confronting others (ie mugging, purse snatching, armed robbery)?" or "Has your child ever assaulted anyone sexually?" Those made me nervous and I was wondering, 'are you sure this is a school questionnaire and not something the police needs to know of?' eep!  You had to give your answers in numbers (0: not true/never all the way to 3: very true/frequently) A lot of them weren't too hard to answer, but a few had me not quite seeing it as my husband did, so we had to discuss them. The easy ones were "does your child blurt out answers before the question is completed?" or "annoys others on purpose" or "is the last to be picked for teams and games." or "is a poor speller" (that seemed strange to me, as if spelling had anything to do with behavioural issues) or "become irritable when anxious?"  (We haven't noticed any anxiety)  

The hardest for me were the last three questions:  does your child's problem seriously effect school work and grades? friendships? home life?

The questionairre also gave a place for us to write down what we thought were his strengths, but after focusing on negative things, it's hard to get into that mind set.  My husband said that he has "good mechanical aptitude". I laughed. That sounds so clinical. Who even knows what that means? I mean, other than my mechanically minded hudband!  We added it anyways.

So now we wait. I'm not too sure what will happen next, but I guess we will hear from the SN Coordinator and maybe do further testing.

Until then, we are trying what we can at home. We are being more strict in his bedtime and are giving him Melatonin to help him sleep.  I have never been one to believe in giving medications on a long term basis (other than ones that are medically needed, such as my thyroid pills and the ones Kai takes for his cardiomyopathy, of course) but we thought this was needed. Especially since it seemed no matter what time we send him to bed at, he was still staying up late and struggling to fall asleep and struggling during the day time. Sleep was one of the concerns his teacher brought up, so we knew we had to address it. 

We were amazed at how it changed him almost immediately! He was suddenly a happier boy! He wasn't fighting much with his siblings anymore and he was helping out in the family and it was just a shock!  I greeted him with a "hello" one morning and he responded "good morning!" cheerfully!  I blinked and wondered who this boy was!  Sometimes change is good!

Even his teacher has noticed! When she asked him about it, he said that his parents were making him take melatonin, and so she asked what he thought about it, to which he replied that it "felt like his brain was awake now"! Wow. What does that say?

I'm not too sure what will happen next, but I guess we are starting a new journey with him. One that has been needed to be addressed for a few years now. I'm apprehensive and nervous, but also hopeful. Maybe this could be the answer to our worries!


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