An ADHD parenting adventure

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 22, 2017, 5:25 PM | comments: 0

The first two, almost three years of parenting were exhausting. Kids can't do very many things on their own at that point, so you're always wiping butts, getting your kid in and out of bed, feeding them, etc. Simon had no real concept of schedule, so it seemed like I was always tired. But before you know it, you get back to some sense of normal, and all of the baby stuff that you labored over acquiring (strollers, high chairs, car seats, changing tables, etc.) become completely useless. Hopefully you bought most of that stuff second hand.

For us, at least, the exhaustion turned from physical to emotional. Simon was diagnosed with ASD, and almost three years after that, ADHD. The ASD diagnosis was something of a relief, because it perfectly explained some of the developmental challenges he was exhibiting (not to mention the style of play that involved lining cars up instead of driving them). It meant that all of the extra intervention and double pre-K effort was validated. While he certainly some personality quirks, not the least of which is an inability to understand sarcasm, I feel like he can generally cope with being "neurally atypical," as they say.

But midway during first grade, it was clear that he was starting to struggle in school, which at first seemed strange because he was obviously smart and understood everything put in front of him. That's when we got him in front of the right doctors and arrived at the ADHD diagnosis. This is a condition that has the perception of being overdiagnosed, but as it's often a comorbid condition with ASD, not easily ignored for us. Frankly, when he couldn't stay focused long enough to get dressed or complete a shower, it's not like we couldn't see examples in front of us where it was affecting his quality of life. I just hated the idea of medicating without therapy.

This is where it gets frustrating from a care standpoint. Diana is worthy of mother of the year because of her attention to detail and the level to which she wants to understand these conditions. But at the end of the day, doctors have to prescribe treatment. We started with one pediatric psychologist who frankly didn't seem to get particularly engaged beyond medication, and wasn't owning any therapy referral either. We switched doctors, and now we're getting somewhere, but it's frustrating. The medication he used last year wasn't working this year, so after switching, he seemed to get worse until we increased the dose. The difference is extraordinary in school, and we saw it last weekend when asked to observe him on it.

If that weren't frustrating enough, he also suffers from anxiety, to the point where the first therapist we talked to wouldn't work with him because it would be ineffective. So he's on a med for that as well. He's 7, and that's heartbreaking.

I've had countless instances where I've lost patience with Simon, mostly when he's not on the meds. He's defiant and quick to meltdown. It's a mess, and it leaves me a mess.

I do feel like we've turned a corner, but just in the last week or two. What's difficult is that when we don't medicate him, his ability to follow the most simple instructions decreases exponentially. This weekend has been a little rough at times because of that. Weekday evenings can get a little tough too as the meds subside, especially around homework, which can crank up his anxiety because in his mind there's no room for doing it wrong. Our wind down at bed time has been a lot nicer than it was lately. He's painfully self-aware of his behavior challenges, so he feels broken.

It's worth noting that this year alone, we've spent thousands in co-pays, deductible and medications on trying to help him. I bring that up because I don't see how any family making less than six figures together can afford to do it. I find that completely immoral. Kids don't get to choose their parents.

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