Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 4

First - I usually respond to comments in the comments.  Does anyone actually read them?  I realized that I almost never go back to read comments after I leave a comment, and so I may be wasting my time responding in there.

So, I talked a lot about Christopher after parent teacher conferences.  But I have two children in school.  What about the other one?   I'm finally ready to talk about it, and this next list, taken from this page should give you an idea where our heads are.

What are some of the red flags or warning signs that parents and teachers should be aware of related to girls and ADHD?
  • Difficulty maintaining and shifting focus
  • Easily distracted
  • Disorganized and “messy”
  • Forgetful
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Daydreamy
  • Slow to process information and directions (It may even appear that they aren’t hearing you)
  • Careless
  • Often late (poor time management)
  • Hyper-talkative
  • Verbally impulsive (blurts out, interrupts others)
  • Easily upset, over-reactive 
I went into her conference knowing she'd been having some issues with not completing her work, and excessive talking, and walked out completely floored.  Our smart, capable girl is barely passing 3rd grade.  She actually is failing one subject.  In every category involving getting work done, or personal responsibility, she is below grade level.  I had no idea things were anywhere near that bad.  Her teacher is not the one who suggested ADHD.  She has actually been pretty much no help at all.  The following week I sent an email requesting a weekly update from her on Lex - if she'd been getting work done in class, following directions, the whole list of things she's having trouble with and was basically blown off by the teacher.  It was that day, in talking to my mother about Lex, wondering how in the world you teach personal responsibility and listening skills that I said - "she's just so flighty all the time, almost like she has ADD or something."  Which flipped the switch in my head.  I thought I remembered reading that ADHD presents differently in girls than it does in boys, so I started researching.  The above list was the first thing I found.

It's like someone set out to write a list of Lexie.  I read it over the phone to my mom and she was as amazed as I was.  Since then I've done a lot more research, gotten the school involved, and have started the process for getting her evaluated and formally diagnosed.  According to the diagnostic criteria I've read, there's no way she won't be diagnosed.  It says a minimum of 6 behaviors - I count at least 12.  For 6 a minimum of 6 months, this has been her whole life.  Affecting 2 areas of her life - it's seriously affecting her school work, and she is constantly in trouble at home for it.  And honestly, I'm relieved.  It explains SO MUCH.  All the years of her losing everything.  Of never being able to finish any task.  The fact that she still cries so easily over everything.  The state of her room. - she can't keep it clean no matter how hard she tries.  That she's not stopped talking since the day she learned how.  (You just THINK I'm joking.  I'm not.)  We are planning to not medicate at this time.  We want to try behavior modification and organizational strategies first.  I won't rule out medication forever, but there's absolutely no reason for it to be the first thing we try.

So - anyone out there with experience here?  What should I be doing?  What shouldn't I be doing?  I'll take any advice you've got.  This one is all new to me.  We're going to have to tell Lexie what's going on here soon - any words of wisdom on that one?  Really I think she's going to be okay with it.  We've always told her that Christopher's brain is just wired differently, but that it doesn't make him better or worse than anyone else, just different.  So she's already got that in place - that everyone's brains work differently.  Can we just stick with that?

My gorgeous little girl.  I wish I could make life easy for her.  But that's never been a Mommy's job.  Just to love them through it all.  And that I do.


heather said...

thank you for sharing this. my oldest daughter's teacher and counselor are now thinking we need to consider this. i would never have dreamed it. she gets good grades, etc. sure she's messy and dawdles. but now we are worried there is more to it than that.

hope we both can get the correct answers.


My 3rd grade son has ADHD. He was dx in Kindergarten. He is medicated and doing great. Luckily his K teacher brought it to our attention early in the year and he was able to stay on track and not lose any "time". It is a very hard thing to live with; you are constantly dealing with some aspect of it. It gets much easier as time goes on. We are 4 years into it now. We tried the non meds route. He just couldn't get it together. We have also had behavior therapy. From what I've learned and seen, they need the meds. No parent wants to medicate their child; My husband was against it at first. But after a lot of research and discussions agreed to it. I put it to him this way. If our son had a different medical condition that needed meds we wouldn't withhold that from him. This is the same thing in my mind. He can't control himself and it isn't his fault. It wasn't fair to him to be alsways in trouble and to struggle so much. He is getting all A's in 3rd grade and is having no issues at all. I know he wouldn't be if he were not medicated. I would love to chat further if you want to.

Jennifer said...

heather - Last year, that was Lexie. Good grades, messy, daydreamy, took forever to do anything. This year it's really having a serious impact on her school work. I'm glad you're taking it seriously and looking into it as well. I too hope we get the answers we need, and soon!

MLWB - Thank you for your input. I think that is probably the track we will end up going down with Lex in the long run. I see how badly she's floundering in 3rd grade and I think about jr high... I can't imagine her being able to handle that unmedicated. So I am definitely not ruling it out at all. I just don't want it to be the first thing we do. I'm happy for your son that his issues were caught so early and he's doing so well. I know that Lexie has amazing potential. That's part of what hurts me so much for her in all of this. She shouldn't have to struggle so much.

Dawn said...

Now that I know you comment to your comments in the comment section, I'll definitely check back.

Along with being autistic, my 5y/o grandson has ADHD. My daughter has an appt. set up with the pediatrician to see if medication is the right way to go for him as well. He's going to therapy, but still needs some help. It's all about giving them every opportunity you can to succeed.

Ami said...

Jennifer - I, too, will check back now that I know you respond in the comments; I do the same on my blog and sometimes wonder if I'm wasting my time.

As for your beautiful Lexie... I've had experience with ADHD, primarily from the teacher's perspective. (I teach 'learning support' and I'm involved in all of the evaluation meetings, etc. for my school.) I think that your current view - trying other things before meds, but not being completely opposed to meds is the best attitude a parent can have early on in the process. I have seen some kids make dramatic improvements by implementing some behavior mod strategies, diet changes, etc. And, yet, for other kids, the meds have been the only thing to make a difference. One student stands out in my head b/c her parents were SO concerned about the meds, but once their daughter was on them, she was able to focus and complete anything presented to her - and she remained the bubbly, outgoing girl that she is.

Anyway, in the interest of not taking up all of the space on your comments, I'll offer to be available if you'd like to e-mail me through my profile. I'll try to answer specific questions to the best of my ability if you're interested. :)

Jeanette said...

I have no advice or experience. I hope that you get the diagnosis you are looking for though and come up with a solution. ((Hugs))

Shana said...

Oh Jennifer, big hugs. I think what you have told Lexie about Christopher is wonderful & I would definitely stick with that. Let us know how things are going. On a lighter note...I left you an award on my blog!!

won said...

Knowledge is key. I imagine it's quite a relief to have had the epiphany you did.

I'm keeping you in my thoughts.

Jennifer said...

Dawn - yep, answer them here. And in case you missed it before, please feel free to give your daughter my contact info. I'd love to talk to her. I think I'd missed before that her son has ADHD as well as the autism. That must be even more fun to handle!! :) I can just imagine Christopher stimming like that!

Ami thank you very much! Don't be surprised if I take you up on that offer to contact you in a few weeks when we start working with the school to figure out a plan for Lexie! I'm all about picking people's brains! Thank you for the offer, and the compliment on my girl!

Shana - We knew we wanted to be able to explain Christopher to Lexie in a way she could understand, but also in a way that wouldn't ever make her think less of him. So that was the wording we decided on. And it's true. His brain is wired differently than hers, and it makes some things harder for him and some things easier. It's worked too. She tells people about him, and about autism, she's a good little advocate!

won and Jeanette - thank you for your support! It is a huge relief. That moment of going - "It all makes sense now!"


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