Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's very, very real...

Most of what I’m about to share is private, it’s personal and it’s about my son.  Close friends and family are aware of our situation, but there are plenty of people in my life who are not. 

But after reading this article: ADHD Definitely Doesn’t Exist, But If It Did I Would Have It   I didn’t feel like I wanted to keep silent.

I honestly don’t want to publicly “out” my kid, but reading an article that says ADHD doesn’t exist makes my blood boil.  But that’s what it was intended to do, so I don’t fault the author.  I don’t fault him for laying out his opinion on the matter, and I won’t fault him for the gross overgeneralization of the situation.
I’m going to lay out MY opinion, based on MY experience because I want the other side to be heard.  And the “other side” of this is a sweet little eight year old boy who can, and will, tell you that ADHD is in fact VERY real.

Once upon a time, in 2006 a sweet little red headed boy was born.  Even as a little dude he was constantly in motion.  He was happiest when he was busy, moving, entertained.  Many people will say that’s normal kid stuff, but I have two of them and I assure you they are very different in this way.

As he grew, he just got busier.  He was, and is, a very funny and insightful child, just like his older sibling.  But, as I like to say, he came out of the womb talking to the nurse and the doctor.  Talking in his sleep (for real) and talking talking talking nonstop.  Again, people will tell you this is normal kid stuff.  I will remind you, I have two and they are very very different in this way.

I have dozens of blog posts on here about both children, but many of them were always about his shenanigans and mischief at school.  He’s not a bad kid or a mean kid, he’s just busy.  Always testing the boundaries, pushing the envelope and still, the talking…

I also have photo upon photo of him with black eyes, a bumped head, or missing fingernails.  My Dad used to say “gravity storm” when the poor kid would literally off a bar stool in the kitchen, fall down while merely standing still or trip over something that wasn’t there.  

It’s tough when you’re a kid who is always in motion.  When you brain never stops until you sleep.  I remember saying he looks like a murder scene chalk outline when he sleeps.  It’s because he’s constantly in motion, on the go and can’t slow down until its bed time and his body has to catch up and re-charge.

It all sounds like normal kid stuff.  But I have two children and they are still very different.  Busy is as busy does until you have to be in school.  Suddenly there are expectations that they can’t meet, no matter how hard they try.  Their teacher whispers after school one day “he might be ADHD”, and, as it was in my case, you won’t be too shocked.  But still, as a parent you hold out hope that it’s a phase and he will grow out of it.

But then, notes keep coming home, his academic achievements are far below what you know your bright and intelligent child is capable of and suddenly he isn’t making friends.  Your sweet, fun-loving, jovial life of the party child has no close friends.  He stops getting invited to parties, but tells you about the parties that all the other kids get invited to.  Try and explain that to your 7 year old.

And, you see him interact with others and you know why.  No one wants to befriend the Tasmanian devil.  He gets more and more riled and is less and less capable of setting himself down.  You can see the irritation on their faces.

You volunteer in his classroom and notice a marked difference in him vs the other kids, minus the two kids you know already who are ADHD.  Indeed, they are very much the same.  Impulsive, busy, in motion but they are not bad children.  They are good children who aren’t made to fit in a classroom of rambunctious 7 year olds.  It’s hard to be them.

Then you watch the children he once called friends pick on him, make fun of him and say things like “why can’t you get your work done?” or (and I can’t blame them) “go away, you are bothering me.”   

And you watch how his confidence playing sports takes a nose dive because these same children also put him down on the court and on the field.

Suddenly you find yourself with a depressed little boy who feels like he has no friends and can’t do well in school.  So you try different diets, you medicate him with coffee before school (which helps for just a bit), you make him exercise a little more and you work with the school until there’s nothing else to be done.

You face facts: your sweet, fun-loving, perfect, beautiful child feels that he has no friends, he can’t do anything right, and school is too hard.  And you know he is a wonderful boy that anyone would want to be friends with, if only….. And you know how smart he is, if only…..and your heart breaks a thousand times over when he tells you, again, about a party he wasn’t invited to.

And with that in mind, you finally, reluctantly, put him on medication because you don’t know what else to do.  And it works.  And all the guilt you feel about giving him the meds combines with all the guilt you feel about not having given them to him earlier and the huge, immeasurable relief you feel that finally, after years of trial and error, worry, pain, heartache and despair, you finally unequivocally get your son back.

For every article that says ADHD isn’t real, there’s one that says it is.  And I have an 8 year old boy who can tell you what life is like with ADHD and what it’s like with medication.  Two totally different worlds, two totally different children, but they are still, and always, the same sweet, wonderful, perfect, friendly, caring, giving children you raised.  

For everyone out there who says ADHD doesn’t exist, there’s another 8 year old boy or 11 year old girl who can tell you that thank GOD their parents did what needed to be done to make life the way it ought to be for them.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be that child, but I can tell you what it’s like to be their parent.   

And reading things like this that say ADHD isn’t real is upsetting, to put it mildly.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate to put him on meds, I’d just have done it sooner.  I have my son back, and I’m thankful for that much.