Chemistry Experiment

June 21, 2008


Today The Swimmy started her medication for ADHD. (Wait. Did I remember to tell you she was officially diagnosed? Oh. Uh. She was. Am psychic.)

After a long discussion with the pediatrician about what my understandings and expectations of the available medication are, one was chosen. I was happy to see that the nurse practitioner who specializes in following the kids with this issue was knowledgeable and thorough in her questioning of Swimmy’s eating, sleeping, health and social habits.

I was very clear with the pediatrician on the phone a few days earlier that under NO circumstances is there to be any use of the words “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, “ADHD” or anything related to this issue in front of her right now. If we have to we will speak in pig latin to keep this away from her. There is no need for a seven year old to know anything more than we went to see a special doctor, played some games and answered some questions and checked to see if she had a “race car brain”.

She has a race car brain. She also knows that sometimes her thoughts get a little jumbled in her head and sometimes she says things she doesn’t really mean to say. She also forgets some stuff and gets a little confused about lists of things. That’s it. This is all she knows.

I don’t want the label for her right now. I don’t want her to start thinking she “has” something. That is no way for a seven year old to define herself. She should define herself an awesome reader. A great dancer. A sweet sister. A good friend. The Swimmy.

For the record, she is taking Focalin XR. I chose this for the long-acting effects and minimal side effects. I was very clear that whatever she was going to take was to be the lowest, most conservative dose. And, most importantly, I didn’t want her to lose her “spark”.

Unlike media reports, I am a strong believer in medication for this. This is not a behavioral disorder. It is brain-based. And because of that there needs to be a chemical component to this to make up for the biological deficiency. No different from the Lithium a bi-polar patient needs – this is but one of a few therapies that will help her be successful.

She will also always be on some sort of drug therapy. I will make sure of that. This disorder cannot be outgrown, but it can be managed well and medication is key to that. I see people who’ve refused to take the really effective medications available for this and their life is a mess. No life should be that complicated or that hard. This is not a crutch out of weakness – it is a necessity no different than wearing your glasses if you have bad eyesight.

We will also work with her in a social skills group for kids her age so that she can sharpen her toolkit on interpersonal relationships. Often times kids with ADD/ADHD need some help understanding that there are TWO people in a friendship and that other person has feelings and interests different than their own.

(Actually, there are some “normal” adults I’d like to send to that group in the hopes they would become less asshat and more human.)

It’s been a long road getting here. And there’s a long road ahead. Along the way there will be challenges I know about and can anticipate and some about which I have no idea. But I know where I want it to end – a happy, healthy, well-adjusted woman who can make good decisions (not just easy ones), recognize an unhealthy person or relationship — and create and participate in a healthy relationship.

But for now I’d be happy if she hangs up her wet towel after she bathes. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

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4 Responses to “Chemistry Experiment”

  1. Kim H. Says:

    I completely agree with you – there is no reason for her to think this defines who she is… it’s such a small part of the big picture. You are such an amazing Mother – she’s lucky to have someone watching out for the whole and not letting this change or define who she becomes.

  2. bill Says:

    I don’t have a child like that, but fwiw, my take is that you’re handling it exactly right with the ‘no tags’ policy. Good going. Although I have to admit, the idea of the ‘race car brain’ made me smile. Does this make her a fast woman?

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Good luck!
    I think the reason some people seem to be critical of using medication is because ADHD tends to be overdiagnosed by idiot doctors who throw it at undisciplined kids. I certainly don’t think hat’s the case with Swimmy, since it seems you have been great about getting her checked out and have doctors and nurses willing to listen to you and talk you through options. I’ve definitely seen how well it can work for kids who truly do have ADHD and aren’t just lacking structure and guidance. I also commend you for keeping her on medication at all times. As a summer camp counselor, I dealt with a few children whose parents thought they’d take them off it for the summer and only have them on medication during the school year. That never made any sense to me, and I think it probably ended up hurting those kids.

  4. mp Says:

    I was just reading your 100 things.. MIZ ZOU!
    We have a family of alums and do the football game every year!!