Most of you know by now that for a little over a year we’ve been trying to help Gabe get “straightened out” academically. I say straightened out like it’s a bad thing — it hasn’t been, entirely. It has been frustrating and at times I’ve felt a complete parental fail. But it has been a learning process and has gifted our house with a different insight. So, in short, not entirely bad.
At any rate, Gabe had officially-unofficially been diagnosed with SPD. After seeing a few, in my momma bear-like opinion, quacks, we finally decided to hear out the “unbelievable” and give God’s hand in this a chance.
Gabe has “officially” been diagnosed with ADHD/ODD. I have been so admittedly against an ADD/ADHD diagnosis because I believe that it is a “trendy diagnosis”. Now, don’t get to hating on me, y’all. I’m not saying ADD/ADHD isn’t a real thing, and I’m not saying some people don’t actually suffer from it. But I have personally met some parents who have diagnosed his or her kid with that particular source of inattention, when, in fact, it is not always the case. So, not trying to offend or disregard. Just another opinion I happen to have. Moving on.
Like I said, I have been staunchly against that particular diagnosis in Gabe, because even though he has shown a handful of symptoms as shown in ADHD kiddos, he definitely doesn’t display even half of them. And ODD? Absolutely not. He may be a lot of things, but he most certainly is not the poster child for conduct disorders of any sort. I have spent most of his life trying to figure him out — what makes him tick. Granted, I don’t have a PhD in medicine or child psychiatrics. But I know my boy like the back of my hand. And I know that what makes that little brain tick is breathtaking — albeit, exhausting. But things were not going well for my Gabe. His inattention grew worse and his frustration with himself was pitiful. To even look me in the eye, he had to hold both of his little hands up to his face. Broke my heart every time. So, I set aside my pride and “parenting skill”. And it took every ounce of me to sit down, look that quack child psych in the eye, and tell him, “We’ll try a low dosage. The lowest dosage you have.”
He’s an older guy, and right off the bat suggested Ritalin. I’ve heard horror stories of that particular drug, and have even had the opportunity to witness what it’s capable of — regardless of the “1%”. I swung back and said, “Absolutely no Ritalin. If that’s all you’ve got, then this is completely off the table.” There was another stimulant that could take it’s place, and, because I’d conversed with Gabe’s pediatrician previously about the second choice, I agreed. As his relief shown through as what I’m sure he dubbed “an easy case,” a lump in my throat grew that I hope to never feel again.
Those of you who know me know that I don’t even give my kids Tylenol unless they’re on death’s doorstep. So, pretty much never. My kids have been blessed with excellent health, and I’m pretty much anti medicine unless it’s absolutely necessary. No sense in botching up a perfectly good immune system. So this medicine really sent me over the edge. I felt I’d failed Gabe and that I pretty much needed to turn in my momma-card. We left, and I cried all the way home. No one could console me, and I wanted no consoling. Not because I wanted to be pitiful and pathetic. After all, this wasn’t, AND ISN’T, about me. But I didn’t want my guilt swept under the rug, either. I’d let down my boy — and he had no idea.
You’re probably shaking your head thinking I’m a complete idiot. And you’d be right. “She’s taking this too seriously.” Maybe I am. But maybe not. Before criticisms begin to take flight, I need you PARENTS to sit down and think about anything you’ve ever done, no matter how petty or seemingly insignificant, to or for your child that afterward left you feeling worthless. It could be not making it to a tee ball game, or telling your daughter for the fiftieth time, “No! You cannot wear that to…wherever.” Or canceling plans because work gets in the way. Or sickness. Or whatever. And no matter how stupid it is to the rest of the world, it’s SOMETHING to you. It’s not stupid. It’s not silly. And it hurts you to your very core.
That’s how I felt about this situation with Gabe. I’ve sworn never to medicate for the sake of medicating. I swore never to medicate if there were other options available. Now, don’t get me wrong. We absolutely vaccinate our kids. I feel that is important for my own reasons — reasons that I’m not nearly in the mood to get into right now. But medicating for the sake of it… giving Tylenol every five seconds for a sneeze? Nope. Not my style.
Also not my style? Not being able to figure things out for my kids on my own. I’m the momma. It’s my job to figure things out. It’s my job to handle up on things. Because they can’t right now. And I should be able to. So telling myself that going gluten-free wasn’t working, and OT heavy work wasn’t working, and running off energy at home wasn’t working, or prize boxes, behavior charts, begging, pleading, crying, removing red-dye… none of it worked. I’d failed. I’d crashed, burned, and drowned in failure. All of my great ideas… they bombed. As a result, Gabe is exceedingly far behind in kindergarten. We’re holding him back a year so he can catch up before actual testing begins. I’ve made some bad choices with good intentions. And, ultimately, because of my stubborness and fear, I’ve let him down all over again. Trial after trial. Error upon error. I’ve failed him. And, per usual, it hurts me to my core. I love that kid. And I swear, I never meant for this to go on so long.
Oddly enough, Gabe’s speech therapist coaxed me into giving meds a shot. I trust her implicitly… and Gabe loves Ms. “Anee”. Other people have suggested the same, and I’ve shot them down for various reasons. But this kind lady has had many one-on-one meetings with this kiddo. Some good, some not so great. And I believe that she, as much as an acquaintance can, loves my boy. So I took a daunting leap of faith. And I’m not going to lie — it’s been hard. Gabe is still adjusting to it all. His emotions are all over the place for a bit after it leaves his system. He sleeps a little more restlessly. But, overall, he is okay. And, as far as one can tell, he is doing fine. His grades and attention have improved. His attitude has taken a turn for better. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m keeping serious tabs on him by way of his teachers (sorry, ladies!). And I’m slightly pained to say I was wrong. I was wrong. So far. I’m still watching for things like a hawk — but only because I’ve researched the meds. And I’m learning new things about my little guy that I’ve never known.. and better yet, relearning things about him, and myself, that I’ve let slip to the bottom.
No, I’m not 100% sold on the diagnosis. I’m still convinced that it’s an over-used thing because it’s easiest to pinpoint. But I’m dealing. And I’m trying to let go of my stubbornness — which is challenging in-and-of-itself. And I’m not nearly happy with my decision. But I’m coming around. And I’m enjoying Gabe coming home ecstatic that he received five A+’s in a row. And, as luck would have it, he still loves his momma.
And Lord Almighty… I love that little boy of mine.