I talked a litte bit about some of the difficulties we have had this past summer in a previous blog. To blog..or not to blog? I want to protect Lil'Dude's privacy....
But I am so sick of the silence.
So. SO sick of it.
Let's just rip off the bandaid shall we?
My five year old has ADHD. (He was actually four at the time.)
And he is on ADHD medication.
Support is not something easily come by for parents going through this, but most especially parents of children younger than 5. We feel alone, and guilty. Oh...the guilt. Guilty for even thinking your child has ADHD this young...guilty because you think it's your parenting...guilty because there is no way you are doing half the things other parents are doing with their kids because it's just too hard with your child. Guilty because....because sometimes you just want a break from your child. Guilty because sometimes....sometimes just the thought of spending a day alone with your child makes you cringe. Guilty because they are just babies....just tiny little people that can't figure out why they do these things.
Guilty because despite all the love and attention you give your child...you can't fix it.
Guilty because it's "just" ADHD. Many people have it. So they are a little more hyper and active....so why is it so hard?!
Psh. People who think ADHD isn't that hard, do not have a child with ADHD.
Lil'Dude has shown signs since he was 6 months old. He had to have high stimulation from the get go. He never played by himself, played with his toes, with blocks, etc. He liked music, dancing lights, and attention. He didn't really play with toys unless you were there playing with him.
When he started walking at 12 months, he literally started running the next day. Literally. He never stopped. He just kept going and going. By 18 months he was getting into everything, daily. Sounds normal right? Well by 2 years old...we were overwhelmed. It shouldn't be this hard right?! I mean, yes, two years old is hard, but you shouldn't have to lock them in their room to get them to sleep...or so that they won't wake up in the middle of then night and get into the knives, or something else dangerous. Every single day during naptime he would rip off every article of clothing from his closet. Every. Day. He would get into things every day...despite getting in trouble every day. We were VERY consistent with punishments and discipline. But he consistently did things, day in and day out, he wouldn't learn.
It was level high, all the time. He didn't watch TV, it couldn't hold his attention. He didn't play with puzzles, he didn't play with toys period really. Well he would play with toys...for a second, then he was on to the next one. He was extremely sensitive to sleep, if he didn't get a certain number of hours of sleep...it was over. He was like a little Tasmanian Devil. He couldn't control himself, couldn't stop from grabbing things, breaking things, throwing things, hitting things, hitting other kids.
We could never...ever leave him in a room without our supervision. He would walk into a room and he would literally zoom into all the things he could get into. He is extremely impulsive. We would open the door to walk outside and he would take off. Chasing him down the street yelling...over and over and over and over....and over.
He was extremely smart also. I think this made it worse. He got bored easily. He can read people...and read situations. If he wanted something, he would find a way to get it. Manipulation at his finest. Goes without a nap for a day? Screams at naptime day in and day out for the next week trying to get out of it then too. If he even sensed his door wasn't locked he would keep coming out until 12pm when we finally had enough and locked it again. Then the next day he was out of control because he didn't have enough sleep.
Needless to say, I broke a few months before he turned three. I kept waiting for him to "grow out of it" as people would tell me he would. I would wonder why I was always so exhausted. Why is the discipline techniques not working? Why are people laughing about their two year olds' antics when I just want to cry? People say the things he is doing is normal, but is it normal for them to do it every single day? People tell me to ignore him, how do you ignore a child when he is literally taking knives off the counter every day if you don't have them put up completely? Luckily, I had a doctor that listened, and agreed that it sounded like there might be more here.
So we looked into it. Had a way-overenthusiastic neurologist that diagnosed him for the rest of his life, and then a therapist who basically said it was all in our head.
I can sum up the next couple of years of back and forth...back and forth. Does he have ADHD? No? Yes? No? Yes? All in our head? Maybe we are just really bad parents? Are we too aggressive? Are we too passive? Is it his age? Is this normal?
Medication? No meds? We don't want a zombie. He is just three, isn't that too young? We can deal with it right? Ooo he had a good week, he is out of it! Bad week, horrible week. Back..forth..back...forth.
Finally when he was four and a half, I had enough. He was acting out in daycare and he didn't know why. He was losing his confidence, frustrated with himself, frustrated that he had no friends because he couldn't control his aggression or impulsiveness. He couldn't control himself. I was starting to see him become confused, because as he got older he knew these things were wrong, and yet he just couldn't stop himself.
I had a therapist tell me that there is no way to tell if he has ADHD at four years old.
I had a therapist tell me it's because he is adopted and that is his way of voicing his emotions (Psh).
I had an all-natural doctor tell me he is the sickest most malnurished child and that his brain isn't getting enough vitamins and that is why he is hyper. We basically had to get vitamins that were custom made, and cut out corn, wheat, rice, barley, yellow fruit and vegetables, red fruits and vegetables, fish, beef, poultry, pork, pinto beans, dairy, eggs, shellfish, and a list of herbs and miscellaneous foods. Oh, and add in probiotics because his gut was also in turmoil.
Well. I feed him very healthy and he is rarely sick...so no. He is not on the brink of death though if you asked this guy it's what he believed. It took that for me to make my final step. I was going to my doctor and we were discussing options.
So I went to my pediatrician. Who immediately wanted me to try medication. We discussed side effects, discussed everything. He already knew a lot of what we were dealing with from our past visits. I walked out of that visit with something I hadn't had in a long time, confidence. I was confident it wasn't my parenting, it wasn't what I was or was not feeding him. It's time for us to try medication.
I also had a behvioral Pediatrician confirm the ADHD diagnosis. Then gave me the best compliment ever by telling me how good I am with him, and that most of my instincts have been spot on. You have no idea how amazing that is to hear after what I have been through.
So we tried medication, started the next day (Saturday) and by the second hour of the first day...he walked up to us and said "Oh my gosh mom, I am being such a good boy today!!" He played for hours in his play room with his toys. For the first time ever. EVER. I will never forget the first time he actually sat down and played with toys.
He sat down and played a game, for 15 minutes.
He played tag without tackling a kid, for the very first time. In turn, kids wanted to play with him too.
And he had a full on conversation with us. He actually stopped and had a conversation.
His confidence soared. Our confidence soared.
This is the way for us. He needs this. ADHD is a mental illness. And I am not going to make his life harder by denying him medication, specifically made to help ADHD when he needs it. Why? You aren't going to tell a depressed person to just get happy, or a person suffering with anxiety to just calm down. You can't tell a child, much less, with ADHD to pay attention. You can't teach that. It is a mental illness. No dietary changes are going to cure it. No discipline techniques will change it.
It's not your fault.
How did they get ADHD? Well it's highly genetic, yes. Some believe immunizing kids causes it...using a microwave, watching TV. In the end, it doesn't matter. It's NOT something you did or did not do. It just is. People say it's over-diagnosed. I say it's under-diagnosed...especially in children younger than school age. Because what I found out? You sure as heck CAN see symptoms early. It's just not often that parents put all the signs together, and dare to speak it out loud.
People are going to judge you. People are going to shove things down your throat. They are going to think to themselves that they could have that child whipped up in no time. Ignore them. They have no idea. You know your child. If you see symptoms, don't stay quiet. Research. And if it's time to medicate, please don't discount it right away like I did. I wish I would have started earlier. My son on medication isn't a zombie. No, if that was the case then the medication is a wrong dosage or variety. No, it's like lifting up a cloud and finally allowing my son to shine. You finally see HIM. He can finally stop and draw a picture, play with friends, and just watch a movie. Beyond that....most importantly...is his confidence has soared.
I'm not saying meds are the only way. The right way. I'm saying to not be afraid of all the bad press. Put them as an option, that's all.
But more importantly, stop beating yourself up as a parent.
You aren't alone. You aren't at fault. You are doing everything you can.
Saying that parenting your child is hard, isn't saying they are any less amazing.
Lil'Dude is going to be something amazing, you just watch. This boy is going to soar, with or without medication. And I am going to be there, cheering him on the entire way.
If that means I have a few more wrinkles....a few bags under my eyes from worry...a harder, tougher skin from dealing with criticism...a large gulp size glass of wine in my hand...well so be it. Because it's the kids that give us the more wrinkles and whitest hair that change the world. And I wouldn't change it for the world.