The Difficult Child
As recommended, I took my son to the Pediatrician and followed my best friend’s advice to the tee. “Doctor, I’m sooo tired. This kid hardly sleeps at night and, and, and….” I vented all of my frustrations to him and he sat there nodding and smiling and just listened. When I finished, the doctor told me that it sounds like my son may be a little ADHD. He gave me a couple of assessment forms to fill out before our next appointment. One was for the teacher at the preschool to fill out and the other was for me to fill out. He also wrote me a prescription for a book. The book is called The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki, M.D. He scheduled an appointment for us to come back the following month and sent us on our way.
The next month, I brought back the completed assessments. The doctor reviewed them and now my child gets the ADHD diagnosis. He gave me the Understanding ADHD – Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder pamphlet. I had already read the book that he had prescribed the month before. It was a good book and it answered some questions for me. It put everything in terms I could understand and relate to. And it gave some advice on how to handle certain situations. It mostly confirmed that I was already doing a good job.
So upon being diagnosed with ADHD, my son was prescribed Vyvanse. This is a stimulant medication prescribed for ADHD to help with impulsivity and focus. We were looking at putting my son into Kindergarten the following year so we wanted to get him prepared for school and under control. I went home with the prescription and called my mom as I often do to discuss issues with my son. She was adamantly against putting him on ADHD medications. “I know people who put their kids on that Aderall stuff and it severely stunted their growth. Doctor’s are prescribing ADHD so easily these days and just stuffing drugs down the child’s throat when all they need is better parenting.” Whoa…hold up…ouch Mom! Oh she wasn’t referring to me as a bad parent…just the others she’s known that gave their children Aderall. Okay, whatever.
The bottom line is, my son is about to start school and he is out of control. He’s been expelled from various daycares and I really don’t know what else to do. He’s not going to succeed in school as is and it’s my job to give him the best possible chance for success. So…as much as I don’t like the idea either, we’ll try the meds. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree here. My kid is violent, destructive, and out of control. And I’m exhausted and becoming desperate.
So we start Vyvanse. He calmed down….a lot. It was like day and night. I was kind of worried about him he was so calm. Once I got used to the difference in behavior, it was really nice. He wasn’t bouncing off the walls all the time. Let me throw in a little disclaimer here. Anytime someone starts a new med, it takes time to build up in their system and become fully effective. So every time my son tried a new med, it was for several months at a time so that we could really see the full picture of how he was adjusting to it.
Negative Side Effects
As the weeks went by, my son became more and more scared of things. He would start crying and trembling when he heard a strong gust of wind outside. One day, we were at my parents house visiting. Grandpa was watering the garden and often sprayed my son with the water hose. My son would laugh and they’d get in a water fight. It was fun…and funny to watch. But after being on the Vyvanse for awhile, Grandpa sprayed my son with the water hose one day and my son went ballistic!
He started screaming bloody murder and bolted toward the front of the house. Grandpa and my son were in the back yard and my mom and I were sitting on the back porch watching. Grandpa didn’t understand what happened, well, really none of us did. As soon as my son bolted toward the front of the house, I jumped up and chased him. He was running toward the street and if you’ve ever had experience with an ADHD kid, you know they don’t think to look before running out in the road.
My son was four years old. I took off after him, called out to him and he ran faster. He did a full lap around the house and kept on running, screaming all the while. My disabled mom who can barely walk jumps up and runs the other way around the house. Grandpa is running after us now. You would think 3 adults could easily catch a four year old boy. Let me tell you…this kid had invisible jet packs attached to his little feet that day, he was flying! I finally catch him and scoop him up and hold him tight. He’s trembling from head to toe and crying. He was absolutely terrified. Grandpa was close to tears himself and felt horrible because none of us understood what had just happened. Grandma and I were dumbfounded, this was so out of character for my son. It took several hours to recover from that and get my little boy back. Grandma and I looked at each other and said “The Vyvanse isn’t going to work.”
In hindsight, we now understand exactly what happened. The stimulant heightened his senses and the cold water hitting him from the water hose sent him into a sensory overload. His brain said “DANGER DANGER!” and he panicked. But we know this now, after 5 years of doctors, meds, specialists, tests, and research. Once my son was put on medication, he had to have lab work done every 6 months and he saw the Pediatrician every 3 months. I informed the Pediatrician of the recent behaviors and they agreed that the Vyvanse was not a good fit for him. So he was taken off Vyvanse and prescribed Strattera and Concerta. Strattera was to help with the hyperactivity and focus problems. Concerta was to help with the irrational fears and impulsiveness.
It was 2009, my son was five years old, and he started Kindergarten. I explained the issues to his teacher and she fully understood. I told her I was still struggling to understand a lot of it. She told me, “I live with my boyfriend who also has ADHD. Imagine your standing in front of 27 televisions and they’re all on different stations and you’re watching them all and trying not to miss a single thing. That’s how my boyfriend describes ADHD.” I had never heard an analogy like this. It was brilliant! I knew she was the perfect teacher for him to start his journey through grade school. And he totally adored her. He even wanted to marry her…until he met the Pharmacist at Walgreens. Anyway, Kindergarten went well, there were only a few significant events.
There was one day when they were working on arts and crafts and the teacher put a pair of scissors on his table next to him for him to use. He didn’t want them so he picked them up and launched them across the room hitting another student in the leg. Okay…now these are the safest of scissors with the rounded tips and the kid didn’t get cut. But yeah…that was kind of a big deal. He was given a referral to the principals office who warned him and threatened suspension. I had a talk with him when he got home and reasoned with him. How would you have felt if someone did that to you? How would you have felt if you threw those scissors at your friend and they cut him? He understood. It never happened again. The only other incident I remember from Kindergarten was the referral to the principal’s office for starting a food fight in the cafeteria at lunch. I’m not going to talk about that further because I happen to think that’s kind of funny. He started young. My mom didn’t do that until like high school. LOL At any rate, I told him, “That’s against the rules. You have to follow the rules.” He understood. It never happened again.
The Strattera and the Concerta combination seemed to be working really well. He did fantastic in Kindergarten and his behavior was much better. It was this year that I realized I was doing a real good job as a mom and I had a very well mannered, well behaved little boy. He’s a very compassionate kid. He can’t stand to see anybody hurting. Very sweet. It looks like the medical is calming down again….maybe. Ha.
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