Raising A is an ongoing lesson in 20/20 hindsight. I know we can only make the best decision with the information we have at the time, but I'm human and a mom, so I beat myself up on a regular basis. Was changing schools two years ago the right thing to do? Would his current problems not be an issue if we hadn't? Did we screw up his potty training several years ago and that's why he has such bathroom challenges?
Does he really have ADHD? Did we just give him meds for three years, possibly slowing or stunting his growth, and it may not have been necessary?
That one is the question that haunts me. We pulled A from all ADHD meds right before Christmas for a variety of reasons, and after consultation with his doctor, decided to keep him off. His focus, while not perfect, wasn't that much different from any other third grade boy. We have moved him to a gluten-free/dairy-free diet, with minimal preservatives, insisted on several school accommodations, and have reduced his already small amount of screen time even further.
And we've seen results. We've seen a maturity start to bloom that we knew was there but was smothered by...something. It's that something that haunts me. Was it really ADHD? At least two doctors confirmed it was, teachers noticed differences when he was on meds vs. off...but really?
The confusion lies in how ADHD can mimic other diagnoses. In our house, the other diagnosis isn't really a diagnosis, but a kissing cousin of giftedness. Gifted kids tend to have certain intensities, also known as overexcitabilities. OEs come in five flavors: psychomotor (surplus of energy, impulsivity), sensual (enhanced sensory and aesthetic pleasure), intellectual (intensified activity of the mind), imaginational (free play of the imagination), and emotional (emotions are intensified). While most gifted kids present two or three of those OEs, A presents all five. (By the way, this is where my head explodes when people make comments such as, "What does she have to worry about? Her kid is gifted!" Yeah, it's a barrel of freaking laughs around here). So when you look at those five OEs, can you see how they might mimic ADHD? Especially to doctors who only know ADHD? Or to a mom who hasn't learned about OEs?
So I suspect that A may not actually have ADHD after all. I'm happy about that, but also taking myself out back and beating myself with pointy sticks, too. I know we made the best decision we could with the information we had at the time, but the fact that A was on meds for three years and is now one of the smallest kids in his class weighs heavily on me. We will continue with what we're doing now with diet and lifestyle changes (including adding gymnastics and returning to some of the activities we learned in OT), and revisit medications in the future if necessary.
I just wish I had 20/20 foresight for a change.
Jen can be found writing at Laughing at Chaos when she's not beating herself up over her parenting.