Sunday, March 25, 2007
Here's a hard decision I have to make
OK. Let's be serious for a moment.

I've got a decision to make, and maybe you guys can help. It concerns my eldest daughter. I suspect she's got ADD. Now, she does not display ALL the symptoms, but she does display quite a few of them.

She's smart. In fact, here in Texas, the kids have to take an assessment called the TAKS test. They just completed the reading part, and she tested out at the commended level. That's great!!! So she knows the things she's supposed to know. BUT. Her teacher tells me that she's slow to complete her in-class assignments, and that she catchers her daydreaming quite a bit. Also, she's not quite..."socially accepted". This baffles me because she's such a loving child. At first I chalked it up to snotty little kids in the rich-kid school. But the more I observe her at play with her friends, I notice that she becomes very excitable (we called them "spazzes" when I was her age) and VERY bossy. So the kids don't want to play with her. At home, she bosses her brother around incessantly. It's almost a compulsion for her. And then if I pay any attention to her younger brother and sister, she crys and says that all I want to do is be with them...which is simply not true.

My mother was at the house the other night after I brought Ashton & Ethan home from ice-skating. That was pretty much a disaster. Here I was trying to have fun with the kids at a birthday party. Neither of the kids are adept at ice-skating, and both kept falling on their asses. I split my time trying to pick them up from the ice before other skaters amputated their fingers whenever they splayed out on the ice. By the time I got home, Ashton was in tears, as was Ethan because both felt that I spent too much time with the other. The difference between the two kids was that Ethan stopped crying as soon as we got in the car and I told both of them that I was sorry I couldn't dedicate more time to both of them. He accepted my explanation that there was only one of me and that I tried my hardest to help both of them. Ashton, however just radiated misery and loneliness. I honestly don't think you can fake the emotions that were coming off her.

I sent them both to bed since it was 10:00pm, and turned to my mother in tears. "I'm failing her!", I blubbered to my mother. I really think I am. In fact, I have nightmares that this child is a prime candidate for future-suicide. That frightens the ever-loving crap out of me. She has no earthly idea how special she is to me, and to think that she is just this miserable fills me with sadness.

My mother, who is part of the "suck-it-up" club and "make-do with what you got", gently suggested counseling. She thinks that Ashy is beyond the help we can give her. To be honest, I was expecting her to tell me that everything would be allright and that we just needed to give Ashton more support, but she told me that if we gave her any more support than we do now, we'd be ignoring the other two.

So Monday I'm calling a child counselor to ask for an evaluation.

Which brings me to my decision.

What if they suggest meds? I've heard so much good and bad about that. Some people say that meds for kids are just for parents that are lazy and don't want to deal with their kids individual moods.

Then I hear the ones that say the meds have helped their child become a better, well-adjusted child.

Now. We're moving in a few months. New town, new school. I think the kids here have already made up their minds about how they feel about Ashy. And they are a clique-ish bunch. If they don't accept her now, I don't think they are going to accept her later. It's how they are.

But if she enters a new school, and is on meds (IF she gets them....I don't even know yet that the psych is going to suggest it), she would be a calmer child, and maybe more acceptable to the others.

I suspect I have adult ADHD. I suspect I've had it all my life, and never got help. It just wasn't recognized. I also think I've learned to work around it, and while I still have spastic moments, and lots of times where I can't follow a meeting because my mind wanders, I've learned to adapt and work around any attention spans because I become creative to make up for the instruction I missed.

I often wonder if meds would have helped me thru my school years. I was the outcast she is now, and while I'm a relatively happy adult --- it took a loooooooong time to get here, and I don't want that for her.

So my question is:

Do any of you have any experience with meds vs. non-meds and any thoughts? I would appreciate immensely and guidance or info or thoughts on this.


posted by Norman at 8:59 AM | Permalink |


  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 1:16:00 PM, Anonymous JulieAnne

    She might also be bored. A lot of very smart kids get very bored at school (and in life). See if in San Antonio (when you get there) has advanced classes she could take. That might help her feel challanged at school, which might help with the getting the homework done issue.

    The extreme emotions could also be from all the change that's be going on in her life right now. Daddy is all of a sudden not there as much since he's in San Antonio and there's strange people touring through her house to see if they want to make it theirs. That's hard on a kid.

    We go through an extreme emotion fest everytime my husband has to go TDY (military). My 5 year old reverts quite a bit into needing all my attention (which I have a 5 month old now so that's impossible).

    If the doctor does think she has some chemical imbalance problems you can also try behavior modication learning. This helps her learn socially acceptable behavior through positive renforcement (Sp). That way (hopefully) you won't have to you medication.

    Good Luck!!!!

    Julie Anne

  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 2:11:00 PM, Blogger Nome

    My friends son was diagnosed ADHD a couple of years ago. I've watched them handle it and been very impressed. She and her son (7 at the time) discuss how he feels on and off meds. They decide together when he takes them (ie, he doesn't want them on the weekends unless there is a function he feels he might not be able to control himself at). They adjust his dose together. And, together, they are working on techniques to help him control himself without the meds. The meds don't make him a zombie or anything weird. They just allow him to focus and think things through before he acts. My twins (boy and girl - 9) are both being evaluated at the behest of our school system and I feel a lot better about it having watched my friend and her son. If one or both of my children are found to need medication, it will still be a really hard choice for me. Also, my friend did as much research as humanly possible when making her decision. I can't stress enough how important educating yourself is to being able to work with your child, her teachers and doctor. :D

  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 2:22:00 PM, Blogger Tammy

    Most kids who have ADD are very smart. But, they don't live up to their potential because of this problem.

    If your daughter had a problem like diabetes that could only be treated with medicine, you'd treat it, right? The same goes with ADD. it's a disease, per se, and needs medication to be controlled.

    I would talk to her primary care doc to be refered to soemone who has experience with it and get her properly diagnosed.

    My hubby has Adult ADHD and realized after he was diagnosed, that he's probably had it since he was a small child - but it was never treated. So, he was very bored with school and never went to college because of it.

  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 6:41:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    The meds can make a very big difference, but don't think that they'll be a magic bullet. You might still go with some counceling.....

    as with the diabetes analogy.. a diabetic just taking meds doesn't have nearly the good result that a diabetic that has learned some sort of behavioral (eating decisions) changes too.

  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 7:36:00 PM, Blogger Sandra

    My nephew (who is now 21) was diagnosed ADD when he was about 8 but his problem was that he wasn't able to concentrate. There was no insecurity about love or spending time with him. The doctor put him on Ritalyn and he himself saw such an improvement that he stayed on it until he got married last year then went off as he had no insurance to cover it. He really should still be on his meds as he's having trouble getting and keeping a job.

    I think the doctor needs to make the diagnosis. As was suggested by Julieanne it may be just the upheaval of the move in her life. How long has this been going on?

    Good luck, Norman. I definitely think she should be seen by someone though.

  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 7:51:00 PM, Blogger Norman

    JulieAnne - Well, I've thought she could be bored as well, but while she excels in English & Reading (as I did at that age), she struggles with math, (also as I did at that age). I've thought about the moving & daddy gone thru the week and maybe that being the cause, but honestly, it's just become more exaggerated. So basically, we've had these issues since kindergarten. We just tried to work with it. That's why I'm thinking it's time for professional help.

    Nome - Wow!! I thought you had to keep an 'even level' of the meds in the child's system, so i'm surprised about the non-medicated weekends. IF the doc thinks meds are the way to go - I will definitely ask about that.

    Tammy - I've also never been diagnosed with ADD, I just suspect I have it because of all the info on it (for kids), and then thinking about how I was when I was a child. I actually acted exactly like Ashton. That's why I really want to bring her in. NO WAY do I want her to grow up like I did. I guess it's heriditary.

    Nancy - I hear you. I would insist on counseling sessions as well.

    Sandra - This has really been going on since Kindergarten. We just kept telling her to stop being so bossy, but then the teachers started telling us that she would daydream a lot. So we started working on concentration. We'd get games like "Concentration" and other detail oriented things to try to jump start her attention span. Then in first grade, I visited with the school counselor and relayed the "no-friends" issues and sadness. She would bring Ashy into her office 3 times a week, but finally said "No Issues". Then in 2nd grade, she said the problems were being caused by one little girl in particular, so we told her to "tough it out" and requested the little girl & her be separated for 3rd grade (they'd been in the same classes prior to that, each year). THIS year, her own teacher voiced the same issues about concentration & no-friends like we'd been suspecting and offered to spend extra time with her. it's helped a little, but the loneliness is really starting to get to her.

    But yes, the upheaval has raised it a little more, but it's basically an on-going issue.

  • At Sunday, March 25, 2007 9:39:00 PM, Blogger Christan = )

    I'm a lurker normally, but would like to help.
    This is a very tough area to make a decision on.
    You may consider my opinion from 'out in left field', but I have some experience in this area and have researched a TON. And yes, it's genetic.
    My husband was diagnosed severe ADHD as a child and spent most of his childhood on one drug or another. Some are ok, some are not. It's tough to find one that works for the particular person, but stay away from Ritalin.
    I recently had my youngest child tested for autism. (ADD & ADHD run on the autistic spectrum)
    Your first step should be to test for food allergies. That can have a HUGE effect on a child's personality and emotions. Medication is the next step if you don't see a difference after eliminating foods. My son's trigger is wheat and artificial food coloring.
    Hope this doesn't sound too weird. I know it works as I've gone through it personally and would have never believed it before.
    Good luck, as I said, it's a tough decision.
    Keep us updated as to how it goes.

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 4:40:00 AM, Blogger Marni

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten and takes a once a day dose each morning. It is amazing the difference between him. My dad says he isn't the same kid, but I disagree. He is the kid he would be if he didn't have a crazy, thought overwridden, distracted brain. J-man is VERY smart -- sometimes too smart -- but he has his issues. Even on meds he has a hard time remembering the easiest of things... he forgets to turn in his homework, or write down his name on his work... but it isn't really his fault. He has SO much going on in his brain that he can't focus on one thing.

    We continue to struggle with his ADHD. I, too, worry about him being a suicide risk... I see it in J-man as well. That thought keeps me up at night. BUT, I try to see things the way he does and keep on top of him. Our mantra now is "self control"... we are trying to help him recognize when he is unfocused... doesn't work a lot of times...

    email me if you ever need anything. I hope my ramblings helps even just a fraction...

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 5:06:00 AM, Blogger China Doll

    Hey Norm. Sorry you're going through this.

    This is your call as a parent. Obviously, you already feel there is an issue. That alone should be indicative of the fact that you're not just looking to dope your kid up to make your life easier. You're genuinely concerned for her, and her well-being. And you're right, she is going through a really tough adjustment period right now.

    If the doctor suggets meds, and you feel vaguely uncomfortable with the idea, don't hesitate to get a second opinion. If all the doctors you see seem to have a general consensus, then give it a shot.

    Worse comes to worse, you don't like the changes the meds make in her, and you take her off them. There's no rule that says you have to keep her on them forever. Just make sure you give it sufficient time to do it's work, and make sure the doctor's all know your intentions. A lot of behavioral medicines have to be lowered in doses before you can completely off them.

    Do what you feel is right. The bottom line is - She's not happy, and you seem to be sure that it's not just general brattiness. YOu have to do what's going to best for her.

    Good luck! I hope it all works out for you.

    Oh and p.s. my boyfriend has the most severe ADD I've ever seen. If he's not on meds he can't focus on more than one thing at a time, and that one thing is usually TV. He gets to the point where he can't even hear people or acknowledge anything when he's into something, and he makes really drastic and irrational decisions. Medication is absolutely necessary for him, so I wholeheartedly support medicating, in the right circumstances.

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 5:51:00 AM, Anonymous teri

    My sister took my nephew to get tested a year or two ago. He has ADD. He is on meds. I forgot which ones but I could ask her. The first meds he was on made him lose his appetite, which considering he's a stick already, was not good. They put him on new meds that he HAS to take every day and he got his appetite back and the meds do wonders for him. My sister also implemented other daily chores, etc. to balance him out.

    I'll send you that information. It has really helped my sister deal with him, him deal with school and life in general. I don't like for children to have to be on meds but it seems that it makes their life easier and more stable. My brother-in-law also has ADD but was never diagnosed so we believe it's hereditary.

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 7:31:00 AM, Blogger aka_Meritt

    Isn't it funny that the same parents that will only feed their kids organic foods, worry about red dye in foods, give little toys at Easter because they would rather die than give their children sugar and cut out all sugar and salt in their children's diets are the same parents that don't blink an eye putting all those man made synthetic drugs into their kids systems?

    If my son had been born to any other family he would have drugged up in 3rd grade.

    Instead we've worked on finding his learning styles, his personality styles and his coping styles and then learning how to turn them around to work FOR him instead of against him.

    It's hard, it's frustrating... because as a parent it would be a hell of alot easier to just drug them.

    You can give them drugs and help them for a day or you can teach them new ways of learning, coping and thinking and teach them for a lifetime.

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 7:32:00 AM, Blogger Lisa

    Ultimately it's your decision no matter what the doctors or anyone else suggests, so here's my experience with ADD / ADHD because it never hurts to have more information.

    I'm sure you already know this, but there are many differences between ADD and ADHD. Though they can manifest themselves in the same way, the cause is different. Obviously a trained professional will be able to tell the difference.

    Anyway, I have a friend whose eldest son (now 10) has ADHD. He was diagnosed around age 6. Although the medication helped him to focus in school, play sports, and basically not beat the shit out of his little brothers, there were many downsides. It disrupted his eating (no appetite) and he lost a ton of weight. It also disrupted his sleeping pattern. They would take him off his meds every school break, and sometimes on weekends, depending what was going on. But they found that because the body needs a certain amount of the med in the system to build up, the removal of it had a delayed reaction and actually rebounded on them.

    I have another friend who is adult ADD. He was only diagnosed a few years ago after going through a severe bout of depression. He'd always felt a little "off" (his word, not mine) as a child and young adult, but never knew what it was. He pushed through it, went to college, and is an engineer. But, now with taking meds, he says he can focus more, and feels less frantic. Like my other friend's son, this friend complains of loss of appetite and sleep disruption. He has to make a conscious effort to eat throughout the day to avoid his blood sugar falling too low, even when he doesn't realize he's hungry. And, he now has to take other meds (Ambien) to help his brain shut off enough to fall asleep.

    I think getting Ashy started in counseling is the best start. This might simply be a boredom or adjustment issue. Then again, maybe not. I honestly don't know what I'd do if a doctor suggested giving WJ meds. I am adamently opposed to taking meds that aren't really needed, but I'm also not a doctor. It's a tough call.

    Good luck girl!!

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 1:28:00 PM, Blogger Stewie

    As a kid I was diagnosed with ADD and the therapist suggested drugs.

    My mom refused and I thank God she did every time I think about it.

    My nephew is ADHD and he takes meds. He is completely different when he's on them. It's not that he's a zombie, but he does have a different personality.

    I can't say who's better off, but I will say I can function just fine without the meds. Yes, some days are worse than others, but I'd rather be me than a drugged me.

  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 1:35:00 PM, Blogger Ann

    My brother had "behavioral problems" when he was a kid. In those days no one knew what that meant. He was really smart, but way too immature for the gifted programs he should have been in. He got in trouble a lot because he was bored.
    Eventually he went on medications mostly for depression and OCD.
    Yes, sometimes putting kids on medications can be bad. But not always. My brother lives a normal life because of his drugs.
    Make sure your therapist is good and your trust her/him. Some of it is experimental. The first drug will not always work.
    Good luck. Things will turn out OK. You are doing the best for your daughter by recognizing that you all (your family) need help. Nothing wrong with that.
    My thoughts will be with you guys.


  • At Monday, March 26, 2007 7:30:00 PM, Blogger Norman

    Hey Christian - Thanks for delurking (again!! You've posted before!) We've actually refrained already from certain foods in the past with her, but it seemed to have no effect. We've never done a formal test though, just an observation at home. And no - checking for food allergies is a valid thought, and not totally discounted yet... still want to see what the doc says!

    Marni - Thanks for that Marni. I'm really hoping that meds aren't even brought up. My REAL hope is that the doc can give me pointers on how to help her better with the issues she's having to deal with.

    China Doll - Thanks chicka. You are right, Ultimately - this is my child and I'm going to do the best I can by her. Hopefully, this will all be resolved with some pointers from the guy with how to deal better with some of the things that are going on with and and around her!!

    Teri - Thanks Teri, and I got your e-mail!! Very helpful and informative!! :)

    Meritt - Well, hopefully it WON'T be a first-off-the-bat recommendation that meds are needed. I didn't get medicated for the things Ashy is going thru, so maybe it won't be necessary for her. My hope is that the person we're going to see is going to give us constructive advice on how to deal with it. Because I was in the same boat as Ashy, and I had an extremely hard time growing up. (Lot's of self-worth issues, and confidence problems.) I just want her to be happier than I was. Like I said, maybe it'll just be a matter of "someone to talk to" with a totally new approach to the advice I've been giving her. I'm actually leaning away from the idea of meds but if it's truly needed, I will get 2nd & 3rd opinions before I approach that route.. Thanks for your honesty!! :)

    Lisa - Thanks girl! I'm also hoping that having a person "outside of the family" like a professional counselor will be all the help she needs. It tugs at my heart to think that meds might needed.

    Stewie - Ok. I'm leaning toward the agressive counseling option more and more. But I'm glad you told me that as a "diagnose-ee" and your feelings on that. This is exactly the kind of comments I wanted. Candid and honest. Thanks!

    Ann - So how old was your brother when all this started happening? Was it a thing that started from the beginning in school? Or was it a pattern that began when he headed towards adolescence? Just wondering... Ashy has been displaying these traits since kindergarten.

    All....Thank you thank you thank you. Just fyi - I'm leaning towards really working the non-med angle and trying our hardest to learn different ways to deal with the myriad of issues that she finds. I really do want her to depend on herself and her creativity to solve problems rather than depend on a prescription. However, if it finally becomes clear that maybe meds will be the ultimate help for her, then we'll look into that.

  • At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 5:12:00 AM, Blogger sharon

    Are you worried about your child ? If your child have ADHD, you must have to set your child’s future without ADHD. I have found one site which is very helpful to you to change your child’s without any Disorders.

  • At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 9:37:00 AM, Blogger Ann


    My brother was throwing temper trantrums when he was very young. It used to make my mom nervous and my dad would say, he is expressing himself.
    Our parents divorced when he was 5. So I am sure that didn't help. But I think the fact that he was too smart for his class and was bored out of his mind had something to do with him acting out.
    When he was 12 our grandpa got very sick and that really triggered the OCD.
    So my brother ended up on drugs, but also counseling. He can now live a normal life without the OCD taking over.
    So my brother dealt with a couple of problems as a kid.
    It could be that Ashy is bored and that is why she isn't completing work.
    Tho. my brother didn't have ADD he still had problems socializing. He has always (and still does) get along with people who are younger than him.
    Let me know if you want to talk more over e-mail.


  • At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 11:39:00 AM, Blogger K

    I've had success with Blue-green Algae in the past. Although there's no "scientific" proof that it works, I can attest to the fact that it does. Two weeks after starting BGS and reducing sugar/trash-carb intake, the teachers noticed a significant change in attention & behavior in the classroom. We dosed with it every single day and have for the past 4 years. The Kid is doing fantastic now - honor roll in school, very few behavioral problems, concentrates and is a joy to be around (most times - he's a teenager now, what can I say?). Check it out on the web, it's an inexpensive & sometimes effective alternative.

  • At Tuesday, March 27, 2007 8:31:00 PM, Blogger Ace

    I had a friend studying to be a child psychologist or something who was dead set against medicating children. She was ADD and I think she had bad experiences.

    I took meds for quite some time for some (relatively minor) depression, and when I was at my worst, they worked wonders. I stopped more or less on my own when my depressed feelings (mostly) went away, because I don't want to be a drug zombie. But I swear they helped. They really did. At one of the lowest points in my life.

    I don't know. Probably not much help.

    But see what the counselor says. My doctor put me on the absolute lowest dosage possible, so I don't think it was that bad.

  • At Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:43:00 PM, Blogger collegeblogger

    It's best to avoid medicating adolescent children unless absolutely necessary, because the medications can mess with the chemicals in brain development.

    During adolescence, the brain is undergoing a lot of change, and some hormones and such are likely to get a little out of whack, but its nothing that is not corrected once the hormones stabilize in her later teens. However, if it doesn't improve by her late teens, medication may be the only other option. Usually, the brain will "correct" the imbalances as the hormones stabilize at the end of puberty. Plus, you run the risk of the medication stifling creativity or having long-term effects on her hormone balances.

    My sister was diagnosed with ADHD at 15, and she and my parents use it as an excuse for bad behavior. Even though she is on medication, she engages in drug and alcohol use, theft, etc. Her grades have improved a little bit, but not significantly. The only change that I noticed is that the kid is less belligerent and generally calmer- hence, easier for my parents to deal with.

    Try therapy first, and hold off on medication for as long as you can. It will help your daughter in the long run, although it will be harder on you now.

  • At Thursday, March 29, 2007 6:54:00 PM, Anonymous Em

    Hi, Norm!

    Ive been reading your blog for a while, and just had to throw my 2 cents in on this. I don't know if you've made a decision yet or not, but your daughter sounds JUST like me at that age. Same math difficulties, same crazy emotional stuff, same way of drifting off and being bossy with other kids. It was awful!

    Turned out I DO have ADD! So does my mom. I took the Ritalin (that was all they had then, I hear Adderal is a lot better.) for about two years, while I did some pretty intensive study skills, social skills, and behavior modification counseling. I don't have to take them any more. So, it's not always a question of taking medication permanently.

    It is overdiagnosed, and there are parents who pressure doctors to prescribe Ritalin for normal kid behavior, but that doesn't mean medication and counseling wouldn't be a huge help to your daughter. It sounds like they would. (The joke is on those parents most of the time though, ADD meds are stimulants, and in chemically normal kids, they just hype them up more. It's kind of hilarious if it weren't so sad.)

    By the way, we "pleasant space cadet" types (psychologists actually do use that very term) tend to really thrive in college. So, you may end up with a Dean's lister in ten years. :) If you want any more input, you can email me. emmyduckie (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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