Thursday, November 18, 2010

One for the Team

My son has ADHD among other things. The other things include Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically, a pervasive developmental delay. Let me just go ahead and say it, the ADHD is what kills us around here, not the ASD/PDD-NOS.

Don’t let anyone tell you that ADHD doesn’t exist. (A friend’s son came home from school recently and said his teacher said this. “There is no such thing as ADHD. Kids just need to focus.” Let me assure you, the situation is being handled.) It may be misdiagnosed. Our doctor (and I) personally believe it is highly UNDER-diagnosed, but I’ll go ahead and give you that it is also misdiagnosed.

Yes, pharmaceutical companies are getting rich off ADHD meds. Yes, the media has gone nuts with all things ADHD, muddying the water and in most cases, not being very helpful. Yes, there is a lot of misinformation, misdiagnosis, misunderstanding, and unfortunately, misuse of meds.


When properly diagnosed and properly prescribed and properly administered and properly regulated, they are a life-saver. For everyone. Literally. We originally put my son, Rojo, on meds because the doctor said he’d lost two patients just like Rojo at his age (four). They ran in front of speeding cars and were killed. No impulse control. Hyper activity. Disorganized thinking.

Because the one and only side effect for Rojo is appetite suppression, and because he is painfully thin, we do not medicate him except for his school hours. He is totally un-teachable without meds, and even with them, it’s a challenge. He still taps and hums and repeats and needs to be constantly reigned back to the task at hand, but they help tremendously. It does not make his ADHD go away, it softens it.

What this means, is that 100% of our family time is tremendously affected by his happy yelling, singing, tapping, humming, frenetic pace. The house literally pulses. There is an undeniable beat you can feel (and hear) half a block away. I swear the windows rattle. Poor Flicka does nothing but sleep when he’s at school, as following him all over and over and back over the house when he’s at home, totally kicks her ass. You know when you drive up to a stoplight and some obnoxious person has their stereo up so loudly, with the base pulsing so much your own car sways and you can’t even talk to the other people in your own car, or hear your own music, much less hear yourself think? That’s what it’s like.  Always.

Not a single exchange of words between my daughter, husband and myself takes place without interruption and lots of noisy (yet happy) interference. Forget conversations, I’m talking about the inability to say, “Good morning!” without having to raise your voice above the ruckus.

Every now and then we can simply take it no longer. We realize we’re yelling at him and there’s nothing he can do about it. We realize we’re snapping with each other. We realize that instead of trying to communicate there’s just a whole bunch of never minds going on. That’s when we decide to medicate him on an off day, and give ourselves a day off, too. There are simply days that what’s best for the rest of us, is best for him, too.

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