05 May 2010

outside looking in

I've written before about Caleb's struggles in school. They really stemmed from his inability to concentrate on anything and began surfacing when he went to Kindergarten.

His kindergarten teacher, bless her, suggested that maybe he needed a sugar-free diet. We weren't particularly opposed to that; but we tried it and it seemed to make little difference in his behavior in the classroom.

He was still as flighty as a bumblebee and as talkative as his mother. Ahem.

His first grade teacher laid down the law with him and he did fine in her classroom. Not perfect, but acceptable. In fact, I remember how shocked Jon and I both were in that first parent/teacher conference with her when she said "Caleb? He's just fine!" We both were thinking "Are you sure you mean our Caleb?"

What a relief!

But three months into the school year we made this move and landed in our current school district. Caleb's classroom had twenty seven students and two teachers (thank GOD for that!) and you'd have thought he'd be fine.

Oh, no.

He wasn't getting work done, ever. He never stopped talking. He was constantly on the move, whether at his desk or around the room. His classroom teacher complained via email almost every day and it was frustrating for all of us.

When he entered second grade last fall, his teacher had never even met him. By Christmas, she started saying "Maybe we need to implement some strategies for Caleb to be better at getting his work done." We told her that she was the boss and whatever she wanted to do in her classroom was good enough for us.

Poor lady.

She tried giving him a sticker chart and prizes. That worked for about, oh, two days. She then resorted to moving his desk away from the others. I'm sure you remember what happened there.

Just after his birthday, she called me and suggested that maybe she should speak to the school counselor and see about getting him tested for what seemed to be increasing attention issues. I had told her that it sounded like a plan to me. I had missed her call due to this excitement and had to call her back.

You see, Caleb wasn't just having issues at school. Caleb was not able to listen at home, not able to stop wiggling at church; no consequence we imposed for not following the rules was working.

Not a single one. This kid even lost the privilege of going to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday, something he'd talked about for months and he didn't even care.

The school counselor and Caleb's teacher put their heads together and then they sent me a pile of paperwork to fill out. I made an appointment with Caleb's pediatrician on the advice of my Mom (thanks, Mom!) and his pediatrician said that as soon as I received the counselor's written report to bring it and Caleb back to his office.

He took me seriously, thank God. I was starting to lose it.

In the mean time, the clinic sent me some more questionairres to fill out and one additional one for his teacher. Did I mention that Caleb's teacher wrote the pediatrician a letter expressing her concerns for me to take to his initial appointment? Dr. S said it was "very helpful".

Man, am I glad I thought of it.

Almost ten days later, which was last week, I had all the paperwork together and picked Caleb up from school and took him in to see Dr S. Doc took one look at the numbers on the counselors report and said "Yep, we have a case of ADHD here."

After what has been months of prayer, consideration of what's best for Caleb and our family, and discussion with each other, Jon and I decided that the best course of action at this time is medication for Caleb.

He started a very low dose of Adderall last week and it's already helping tremendously. His teacher is amazed!

Frankly, so am I!

Now, I know that there are definite reasons why medication is chosen and definite reasons why people feel that it's a bad idea.

I get that. Believe me, I do.

I just didn't expect such a strong reaction to even the suggestion that we were thinking of using medication to help Caleb.

And from church family, too. It wasn't pretty. It was painful.

"You know, if you choose medication, you'll never get him off of it."

Like I haven't had days where I've felt guilty enough for choosing this, thankyouverymuch. But a very wise friend (thank you, E!!) has told me that if it's what's best, screw what others think. They have no idea what we've been dealing with day in and day out and have no basis to decide the validity of what we're doing.

For now, it's what's best. For all of us.


Esther said...

Oh, I am SO GLAD the meds are helping. And if he's never off of it? OH.WELL. If he's going to be successful at life, this is what he needs. And it's already helping? Amazing. Clearly this is the path you were meant to take. I'm always here for you friend! :-)

Mr. Matthews said...

Jen, Don't listen to other people (except me :). He may eventually grow out of needing medication. You have to do what is right for YOUR family. I have a friend going through the do I or don't I issue with meds for her daughter for anxiety, so I have listened to her concerns as well. As teachers, we know that it's a tough decision, but sometimes is the best route. Hang in there!

Missy said...

Oh Jen, if anyone knows what it is like to get everyone's opinions on what they think is the best thing for your child, it is me.
You have do what is best for Caleb and your family. Everyone else can just deal with it.

I am so glad you finally have a solution. It is so frustrating when you feel there is no hope and you are losing your child.

tommiseena said...

medicines are created to help us in life. diabetics take what they need. people with heart disease take what they need...you got the idea. caleb needs his meds for his problem. God would have steered you away from that if it was not meant to happen. next time someone says something negative about it, ask them if anyone in their family takes meds for anything, then tell them they shouldn't, see what they say then.
huggggsssssss for being a good mom.