Tag Archives: adhd

Re-emergence

Re-emergence

Greetings, all!

20150214_133309

Gratuitous bunny picture

 

Well, that was a bumpy few weeks.  Got back from the bliss of (an albeit unproductive but much needed) Writers Weekend to dive straight into the teeth of school meetings and a fun little head cold.  But I’m starting to dig out from under everything, so now I can tell you about it.

First off, the school meetings.  Xander has to go through a battery of tests every three years to gauge his development and learning strengths and weaknesses.  This also confirms his ADHD challenges and compensations.  His developmental pediatrician wanted a new version of this, even though he’s really not due until the fall.  I can request the eval at any time, so I did.  And since I was at it, I decided with all the problems she’s been having this year, Hero needed to be tested as well, so I put in that request.  Unfortunately, that was right around winter break, and then when they got back, it was midterms, so they didn’t start doing the testing until the middle of February.  Then we had to find a time we could all meet (and I do mean ALL) to go over the results, so it was another two weeks for that to happen.  So we scheduled to meet on the 17th.  In the meantime, I got an email from Xander’s case manager from last year, asking when I wanted to schedule Hero’s IEP meeting.  My first response was, “Hero’s got an IEP?” and my second was, “She’s got Mrs. Stonis for her case manager!  YES!”  Jen knows us, knows how I work, and in addition to having supported Xander last year, she’s been the support teacher in Hero’s science class all this year, so she knows how Hero works, too.  But the fact that she’d qualified for an IEP before we’d even met to talk about the test results told me that yeah, they’d found something.

I’d booked out a couple of hours from work that day over my lunch hour to go to these meetings.  Boy, did I woefully underestimate how long THAT would take.  It ended up being closer to 4 hours.  That’s because we also did Xander’s IEP update meeting, and I don’t know why but those always take an eternity.  But it was all really interesting.  Yes, Hero’s tests confirm that not only is she ADHD, she’s REALLY ADHD.  Just inattentive fortunately, but still a major academic problem.  She was there while we went over the results, which I think was good for her to hear that her problems aren’t because she’s stupid or because her teachers don’t like her.  She got a lot of positive reinforcement, and seeing her high IQ score helped her get the fact that she’s not stupid.  Because she’s not.  She just doesn’t have the discipline she needs to get her work done regularly.

Xander’s results didn’t bring any surprises, although for the first time they were able to get him through the whole IQ test and get a result that we all think is more in line with his abilities.  He had tested at 86 the last two times he’d taken it, and we all agreed that was just because he couldn’t sit still for the test.  This time a lot of it was on an iPad, and he really liked that, so got more done.  He’s high average, which yeah, is what I’d thought all along.  We went over his IEP with a fine tooth comb, since next year he’ll be at the high school with a bunch of new support people who don’t know or understand him.  It’s one of the things I really like about his current team, they are really looking out for him and making sure he has what he needs.  Next year will be an interesting time as I break in the new team…

Then last week we had Hero’s IEP meeting.  Which was the two of us sitting down with Jen and a blank IEP and saying, “Okay, what do you need?”  Lots of organization/executive function support, mostly.  We talked about the peer tutoring and the afterschool homework club she’s been going to, but Jen thought once we got the IEP in place, she wouldn’t need those as much.  We compromised, so she’s going to go to the homework club once a week, which will let her start going back to her only remaining extracurricular activity as well.  I have to take her out this weekend to buy a bunch of binders for her new organization system.  And now I have someone at school who will double check that the work I’m making her do at home is actually getting turned in.  Which is half the battle.

Now I’m just waiting to hear back from CHOP about getting her in to the ADHD center for evaluation and to start making the decision on whether or not she needs medication.  It’s such a hard decision, but I know it’s made a major difference for Xander, and I don’t want to deny her the help she needs if it really will help her and isn’t just a crutch.  We’ll see how the changes and the IEP go before we make any final decision.  Of course, it can take as long as a year to get in to be seen, and I still haven’t heard back from them despite having put in the appointment request at the same time I put in the testing request with the school.

Another “Is too much” post

Another “Is too much” post

Another gap.  ::glares at the calendar::  I think I’m going to have to make February a Blog Every Day month just to get back in the groove.  But today, let me summarize.

1. The kids are back in school, but not without changes.  I’ve had to pull Hero from color guard, as she’s continued to fail several of her classes.  I feel bad, because I know it’s the ADHD finally rearing its ugly head, but I couldn’t not do anything, either (pardon the double negative).  Three practices a week was just too much of a time commitment, and I couldn’t pull her from Odyssey of the Mind, as that would have punished the whole team and not just her.  But that situation resolved itself as well.  The OM higher-ups had changed the parameters of the challenge the team was working on three months in, invalidating all the work the kids had been doing.  Three of their members had quit the team, leaving them at the minimum participants allowed (which was why I couldn’t pull Hero), and they were demoralized and no longer committed.  After much soul searching on their part, they decided to disband the team for this year.  I think it was a relief for all of them, although their coach was heartbroken.  Now we just have to focus on getting Hero back on track.  I’m getting her tested with the school and am trying to get an appointment for her at CHOP to be formally diagnosed as ADHD.  I’m really torn about medicating her, but we may have to at least for a little while while we work with developing other coping skills.  None of the tools we’re trying to put in place for her right now are taking, and it may just be that she’s too out of control to internalize them.  But hopefully we can get her through the year and by fall have her back on track.

2.  The house has gotten a bit out of control.  Christmas took the card system right off the table and I’ve had a hard time getting it back.  I suspect I’m going to have to start it from scratch, pull all the cards and re-introduce them like I did when I started.  Which still won’t be as hard as it was the first time around.  It’s not that the house is bad.  It’s just not where it was.  There are piles everywhere, small piles, but piles nonetheless.  The dishes aren’t getting done nightly, which means the counters and floor aren’t getting done regularly and the floor needs a mopping.  I can’t remember who’s turn it is to get their bed linens washed (probably mine).  I just need to…start clean.  Give myself permission.  Yup, that’s it.  This weekend I’m pulling all the cards, sorting them by room and starting from scratch.  Hell, I’ll do it today.  The living room won’t take that long to get back on track.  Can do the dining room Wednesday and Thursday, then the kitchen and bathroom this weekend.  Yup, that’s a plan.  Thanks, guys!

3.  I’m behind on Sleepy Hollow and Elementary, but OMG are you guys watching Agent Carter?  WHY NOT???  It’s encapsulating every perfect thing about feminism and equality and heroism and glam and SHE BEAT A GUY UP WITH A FUCKING STAPLER!!!  I’m actually trying out power lipsticks thanks to this show.  You have to watch it.  Honestly, it’s such an utter joy.  And I may have a tiny little crush on Hayley Atwell..

4.  Hrm.  I thought I had a 4, but maybe not.  Life hasn’t been THAT exciting, which isn’t a bad thing.

5. OH!!  I sold my loom!  This is a kind of sad thing, because I wanted to learn more weaving, but I just didn’t love it enough, and it was taking up a lot of space in the house, which as you know I don’t have as much of as I’d like.  So I put it up on Ravelry and an 83 year old former Marine from Pittsburgh bought it!  Nikki and I drove out to Harrisburg with it last weekend to swap with him, and he was just the nicest guy.  I know the loom is going to a good home where it will be well used.  And I got $400 out of it, so that’s a good thing!  Still keeping an eye out for a cheap drum carder or hand cards, though.

So, can she stay current?  Stick around to find out!

May I have your attention?

May I have your attention?

Having a child with ADHD is a challenge.  Having a child with ADHD who is on the autism spectrum is fucking hard.  Having more than one child with ADHD is a nightmare.

Having all your kids with ADHD makes me want to throw up my hands in despair.

Now before you start throwing statistics, data and wild accusations at me about over-diagnosis, restriction of natural expression and all that, know that I’ve been living with this for twelve years.  I have read the books, the articles, the websites, the studies.  I do think it’s over-diagnosed, especially in boys.  I do think there is a cop-out mentality to be able to shoehorn kids into an educational system that is set up for limited modalities.  But I also know my kids. I can tell what’s them avoiding something they don’t want to do and what’s them not being able to control their own brains long enough to get shit done.  And all the wholistic, person directed thinking in the world isn’t going to help them get through the hoops they need to to be able to function in everyday life.  Add to that the fact that every child with ADHD is different, due to age, gender, co-morbities, temperment, mood, a million things.  I can’t take what worked for one kid and slap it on all of them and call it done.  I have to learn everything new with each child.  Hence the despair.

I got one through high school unmedicated, but it was so incredibly ugly that I will always feel like I failed him by not getting him diagnosed and formally treated.  Morgan had IEPs from fifth grade on, but all the supports and exceptions he got didn’t help him, and he graduated feeling like he was stupid and incompetent.  If there’s one thing I’m grateful for about this first year he’s been at the community college, it’s that I think he is really starting to see that he wasn’t the problem, and there are a lot of different ways to learn, some of which he is good at and some he isn’t.  He seems to really be enjoying college, and doing well.  Or he’s lying to me about it like he did in high school.  I won’t know until Christmas.  But he’s going to class every day, which to me says a lot.

Xander is different.  Which of course he would be, as he’s ASD.  He’s struggling with a world where he can’t quite make sense of the social rules at the same time his brain is running around in circles doing 20 things at once.  He’s had support since he was about 2, as he had abnormal lead levels as a child and some early profound hearing issues.  He started on medication in about fourth grade, as he just couldn’t cope with all the sensory input.  It wasn’t a magic cure, but it allowed him to function, and to start processing the social component he had so many problems with.  We didn’t jump straight to ritalin/amphetamines, but started with anti-anxiety meds, and it took a while and a lot of experimenting to find that he really needed the heavier duty stuff.  And his needs have changed over time.  At first he was on a small dose, but he couldn’t take the extended release.  As he grew, the doses got larger, and now at 14 he actually does better with the XR.  And we still have a lot of supports in place both at home and at school, plus he has a behavior specialist and a mobile therapist that each work with him once a week.  But he’s finally getting to a point where he can express himself, and we’re learning what actively interests him, so we’re starting to be able to direct him towards a better place academically.  His teachers all think he’s smart and well-spoken when he bothers to speak, and they’re often surprised by some of the things he comes up with. The social piece is still a problem, and most likely always will be.  But Morgan was a loner until high school, so I’m hopeful Xander will follow a similar pattern.

And now it’s Hero’s turn.  This one is the hardest, because unlike the boys who were happy to just go with the flow, she has life goals, and I am so worried about her getting in a position where she can’t follow her passions.  We’ve know she had issues for about five years now, but usually she’s been able to manage it with a little help from her teachers.  She doesn’t have an IEP, but she does have what they call in Pennsylvania a chapter 15, which is basically an IEP for kids who are doing well enough in school not to need an IEP.  Except this year, all that has gone to hell.  She’s failing two classes, is in danger of failing two more, and all of it is because she’s not doing her homework.  She’s not using the tools that are in place for her, and basically she doesn’t have the coping skills that the boys did at her age.  We didn’t push it because she seemed to have things under control.  But now she has a big social circle, and there are a lot of activities she wants to be involved in, all of which are pushing out the things she’s required to do.  And as she falls more and more behind, she gets more and more frustrated and shuts down, to the point where Tuesday she had a meltdown in science and had to spend time in the nurse’s office calming down and talking to her guidance counselor.  I took pity on her and gave her a mental health day yesterday so she could get caught up, which to her credit she did.  Thankfully my job is such that I can work from home occassionally, because I think having me across the table from her kept her on task.  She got about 12 assignments done over the course of the day, which I think will get her out of most of the holes she’s in.  We meet with all her teachers next Monday to talk about the situation, and the marking period ends next Friday.  I’ve told her that if nothing else, she’ll be stuck with whatever grade she gets this marking period, but then she’ll have a clean slate for the next one, so long as she applies her tools and does her work.  But she’ll lose some extracurriculars if she fails anything, so we’re trying to avoid that (even though if she succeeds, it’ll cost me $150 in fees for colorguard.  Oi.)  But then I have to go through the struggle of do I get her diagnosed, and once diagnosed, do I get her on medication.  I hate to do it, and I’d rather avoid it if I could, but I don’t want her to struggle the way Morgan has.  Either way, helping her manage her condition is going to be incredibly different than it was for either of the boys, and I’m feeling a bit in the weeds at the moment.

The added challenge, for me at least, is that I can’t comprehend any of it.  It makes no sense to me that you would spend three hours avoiding homework when it would take you fifteen minutes to do it.  Or that you would hide it in your locker instead of turning it in when it’s already done.  I get that not everyone is a writer or a reader (although that can be hard for me, too), but just the basics of school don’t seem that hard.  It’s like a video game.  You do your daily grinds, you earn your points, you get to do something fun.  They love video games, this should be a pattern they comprehend.  But they don’t, and I don’t understand why.

So that’s today.  A day of cautious optimism, and plans for Halloween (I’ve been looking up fake blood recipes) and pretending for a little while that these things aren’t a struggle every day.