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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

At A Crossroad

These are some of the quotes I have heard about LaLa since the day she was born:

"Does she ever slow down?"
"She is a lovely child, but how do you deal with the energy?"
"I don't know how you do it. I couldn't."
"I wish I had half her energy!"

Believe me, I wish I had half of her energy too! Here's the thing, I for a long time have suspected that LaLa is not like most children. She is impetuous, has a ton of energy and frankly, the attention span of a gnat. I have also chalked a lot of that up to her age. I have told myself over and over again, "She'll grow out of it," and "A lot of kids can't sit still when they get home from school." Then I see her at a party of her peers and she is still running circles around them. The last party was a disco and she didn't stop dancing a single time. Most of the other kids took breaks from time to time to socialize, La only stopped to get a drink and then carried on dancing, sometimes by herself and sometimes with a group of her girlfriends.

Those of you who have read my blog for a long time know that I have long suspected that she has ADHD, but I am extremely reluctant to medicate. I don't want to change her personality and zombie her. However, upon her recent "well child" appointment with her pediatrician, he brought up the subject of her over activity. I can't remember his exact quote but it was somewhere along the lines of "Wow, she is a darling child but I don't know how you deal with this level of energy all the time!" I wasn't offended by the statement, because as I said, I have heard it before and I have often asked myself the same question. Then I brought up the fact that at 4 years old she was seen by a child psychologist in the US who thought that she may have ADHD, but it was dismissed by her teachers once she started school in the UK. On top of that she makes very good grades, but is a nightmare at home with her behavior.

Understand, I love love love love my daughter. I love her with every fiber of my being. I just don't understand her motivation 99% of the time. I don't understand why when I ask her to get her sock and shoes on so that we can leave the house she goes in her room, forgets why she is there and then comes back with her Barbies, ready to go out and about completely forgetting shoes and socks are required. I don't understand why she can't just walk instead of twirling as she walks all the time. I don't understand why when I ask her to do a small thing she doesn't do it or forgets that I asked her to do it. I am tired of shouting. I am tired of her telling me that I shout too much. I don't want to be the shouty mom. I don't want her to grow up to hate me because I didn't shout at her sister nearly as much as I do at her.

Here is my problem, I hate the idea of medicating her. My husband doesn't believe in ADHD and flat out refuses to even entertain the idea of medicating her. Right now though, I am in a downward spiral. I don't know what to do. Do I let her continue on because her grades are great or do I have her tested for ADHD. I don't know the answer. I don't expect you guys to give me the answer either. I just want to yell it off of my little cliff into the great void of cyberspace.


Mom in High Heels said...

I'm sorry you're going through this. Have you thought about changing her diet? My friend's daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and they did NOT want to medicate. We sat down and looked at her diet and went to the local Whole Foods to trade out a lot of the foods she normally ate/drank with natural versions. Absolutely no HFCS or refined sugars. Within a few weeks it was like she had a new child. It was a hard transition for them all (they ate the typical American diet), but once they got used to the newer versions, things were fine.
Indy is a very active child (though not ADHD) and I've noticed that when he eats too much refined sugar or has too much caffeine, he's a very different kid. I limit the number of sweets and our diet is almost entirely HFCS free (I shop a lot on the economy and they are illegal here in Germany). You might think of trying a change in diet and see if that helps. Hugs to you.

Mary Anne said...

So sorry you are going though such a rough patch.
I would say getting her tested doesn't necessarily mean medicating her, whatever the test results are. Maybe you'll end up ruling ADHD out and will need to look elsewhere, but at least you'll know that. Maybe you do get an ADHD diagnosis, but try alternatives to medication. I've known some people who have had great success with the changes in diet, as MIHH suggests. I remember 30+ years ago, before there was "official" ADHD, my cousin was on a special diet, and it helped him tremendously.
I sort of feel that ADHD may be over diagnosed, and wholeheartedly feel that medicating a child should not be the first course of action, but in some cases, it may be the only course of action that works. Don't beat yourself up over this, whatever you decide. You are a great mom, and you are trying to what's best for your kids. Unfortunately, figuring out what's best isn't always easy.

kateab said...

I think that it is better to be tested and deal with a certainty IF she's diagnosed. Actually, either way, you get a certainty. She either is ADHD or she's not (I know there is a grey area, I hope you don't get that). If they diagnose ADHD, you can then choose what you do next. A diagnosis doesn't mean medication - you are her parents and they can't medicate without your permission.

Jen Walshaw said...

Maxi sounds a lot like this. I agree on the diet changes. It is worse a try!

N-i-c-o-l-e said...

My heart aches for you and Lala :(. I haven't had to deal with this with my child but if I were in your shoes I would be inclined to just get her tested to see if it is possibly ADHD. If not then you don't have to worry about it. If it is then look at holistic/dietary ways of treating first as opposed to medicating as MIHH and MaryAnne mentioned. Good luck!

Jeni Wren said...

I'm going through a similar thing with my six year old, in fact we have a follow up with his paediatrician on Monday. His behaviour sounds exactly the same as LaLa's. At the 1st appointment the paediatrician said there are lots of ways to deal with it without needing medication (which was my biggest fear) so I'm looking forward to hearing his suggestiions as M is almost impossible to deal with some days and it makes me very very upset that I can't deal with him. So big hugs, I know exactly how you feel x

Jeni Wren said...

(managed to cock up my own link there.. oops!)

Sue said...

Our middle son has always had a hard time focusing. He's the sweetest kid, but he could never finish anything because he was distracted by everything, I felt like I was always nagging him to get things done (mostly because I WAS).

Medication was suggested by many different sources, but like you I didn't want to change his natural personality, and I was convinced that he just needed to learn how to use self-control and manage himself.

Finally about a year and half ago (when he was 13) he was failing 3/4 of his classes and we were desperate(I should note that my husband would have put him on medication years ago if I were not so stubborn)our Dr. put him on Adderall. He's a changed person. His grades came up almost immediately. I had teachers calling me out of the blue who didn't know that he was taking medication to tell me how different he was in class. He's happier and we get along so much better.

I feel so awful that I waited so long to do this. I felt like if my kid had to take medicine everyday that it was a reflection of the kind of mother I was. I know that it's not the answer for everyone, but it can't hurt to give it a try, if you decide you don't like the side effects you can always try something different.

JallieDaddy said...

That's a tough situation! There's a ton of great advice here already.

I would just add that I know someone who is 1 the UK's leading Child Psychiatrists, so I'll make a general, anonymous enquiry on your behalf. Like you they acknowledge ADHD's existence but are loath to medicate (by which I assume you mean Ritalin) young children.

If she already eats a lot of sugary stuff, & especially caffeinated stuff like Coke, cutting back I reckon should be your first option. I always think drugs should be a last resort.

I should have some feedback for you tomorrow. Take care :)

Joanie said...

Changing to a more natural diet is an interesting idea and one that has merit. It make some wonder how many kids are on Ritalin who maybe only need to change their diet. It sure can't hurt to try!

LilliGirl said...

The diet changes may help. Or they may not.

2 of my 3 kids are diagnosed with ADHD and I have no doubt it's accurate. We do use meds but only one dose to help them as a tool to help through the school day (this would be the college girl and the boy.)

The college aged child went off because she didn't want to take the meds any longer but as she was struggling she went back on by choice.

And while I'm sorry your dh doesn't believe in the meds that doesn't mean you can't have her tested and use some of the strategies that help kids focus and stay on task. No doubt you are already doing this if she's doing so well.

My boy tests in with a high IQ and when he's got the meds he's honor roll. Without them his grades were poor-average and he was actually ending up suspended from school.

My girl tests in pretty average but with the meds and using time/organizational management she is much more successful completing and handing in quality work.

You'll figure out the answer for your fam but we are here for you if you need a sounding board. (Incidentally, different methods and different meds work for my kids, so I get that everyone needs a tailored approach.)

LilliGirl said...

Oh, and as far as diet...cut your sugars, caffeine and red and yellow dyes 1st, I think.

reddskingyal said...

you daughter is funny, fearless and fabulous. medication is not an evil and not the only answer. adhd is just a diagnosis. one step at a time. she will love you as much as you love her. don't worry. xx

Jess said...

Hello Lovah!!!

I haven't read the other comments, but I see many have had some here is mine!

Obviously, I have no children, but I AM quite a bit older than Joseph and Jacob. Joseph was diagnosed with ADD and Jacob with ADHD.

Neither were medicated until their grades started slipping. Other than that, as a family, we just had to deal with Joseph not being able to really do any type of multi tasking and Jacob doing 1,000 things at one time, never finishing one thing, but constantly moving.

Mom did not medicate the kids for her own sake, she has the patience of Jesus himself, but most certainly for the boys whom she could see becoming SO frustrated with simple tasks because their brains would not let them process properly. They were NOT zombies by any means. Jacob was still a busy body, WAS able to sit down for an hour at a time and finish his school work or clean his room.

I cannot tell you how "embarrassing" it is to be 15 years old, going on a family vacation, inviting your closest friends in the world to go with you, and your little pipsqueak of a brother (who was 7 at the time) did not (and could not) stop. fucking. talking. or moving. or fidgeting. He literally jabbered on for 5 hour. "Oh, look a tree. Mom, why are there trees? Why are they green? Why...OH, look, a van! Mom, why are there four wheels? Why are they round? Why...OH look! A bird..." It was never ending and STILL a story me and my friends (Christine and Brian) talk about.

It WAS a struggle for both of the brothers to finish school. At the same time, they DID eventually gain the skills required to manage their time more efficiently.

In sum up, if you find that she is having troubles with everyday tasks that SHOULD be simple (school work, cleaning off the table after eating, being able to get through a meal without jumping up from the table to do something...) then I wouldn't bother with it. If it will help HER be able to function better, then YES. Do ALL you can! Just think, as adults, if we were having issues like that, we would ask our doctors to help. You are her gateway to help!

Jess said...
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Jess said...
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Expat mum said...

You're getting some great comments, and I agree that first, you should establish whether or not she has ADD or ADHD. Once you know what you're dealing with a) you'll have your head a little bit more around it, and b) you can start looking at ALL the options and reading feedback from other parents and doctors.
There are a lot of support groups and organisations now who specialise in these areas.
You don't necessarily have to start with meds, especially if she's performing well at school. The only thing you want to try to prevent is her behaviour negatively affecting her friendships.

JallieDaddy said...

Hi again

I mentioned your daughter's behaviour to my friend (a leading UK Child Psychiatrist). Their immediate reaction: ADHD. They also said they would recommend Ritalin, but stressed that it can be given in small doses; it doesn't even have to be given daily.

Their only concern was that you hinted that her behaviour might be better at school, so wondered if there was maybe something outside of her school environment of which you are not aware that might be a factor in her behaviour?

Obviously, without knowing more details this is general & non-specific advice; you'd get much better advice by going through the right channels.

So I would suggest seeing your GP with a view to a referral to a consultant.

Hope that helps

JallieDaddy x

Captain Dumbass said...

Hey, I only have a minute left of my break so I gotta be quick. Looks like we may have the same situation. Check out a website called Totally ADD. Very good. Adult oriented rather than child, but whatever.

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

I don't have much time but I wanted you to know I have been on both sides of the debate-medicated them and did not medicate them. (5 out of the 7 people in my house are diagnosed with ADD some have the H factor too, the other just haven't gone for testing)

When we have time we can chat about it.

IN the meantime, get her tested, it does not mean she has to be medicated. Also I don't know about UK but here they give extra time and stuff and extra help if there is a diagnosis.

The thing that probably helped me the most was to go to a parents group especially for parents of kids with ADHD. There are unique nuances and ways you need to deal with kids with ADHD.

An example of one of the things I did before I went to the group was the being convinced my son was just being lazy and punishing him for not doing his homework. the poor kid just did not know what to do with himself. Also, I used to make them study and do homework without music, with ADD kids, sometimes the music is the background noise that lets them focus.

We will speak but sending hugs. (and can you imagine how much I would have written had I had time lol)

Michelloui said...

I have no knowledge to add to all the really useful comments already here. So I'll add hugs. You're a really wonderful mom.

Looking forward to catching up. xox

Muddling Along said...

I have no personal knowledge to this but what I do have knowledge of is going down the non medicated route when everyone else says medicate - you have to do what is right for you and your family, what feels right for you and your family and what works for you and your family

Testing is one thing, where you decide to go afterwards is another

Nickie O'Hara said...

Kat, I've written loads about ADHD on my blog. My son was diagnosed at a very young 4 years old and we've been down the medicated and non-medicated route. We much prefer the non-medicated and it works so much better for him.

Getting a diagnosis isn't all about labelling - it's more a way forward to find ways to help you all cope with the condition as a family.