I'm sorry that I haven't blogged much this school year. It's been a roller coaster the past few months. This summer we finally contacted the doctor to request testing for our son. He was having temper tantrums multiple times a day. He's 8, and most of the time he was acting younger than our 4 year old. Love him, don't like the behavior. Completely draining. It was like something snapped, and what used to be just stubbornness and impulsivity had turned physical and verbal. Time outs were more common, he was saying mean things to our family members. That's not how we have raised our son, and we didn't know what was going on.
A friend mentioned her son had a temper tantrum about chicken pieces on his fork, that it was the life of an ADHD and ODD child, and it clicked that we had had the same temper tantrum the week before with our son. We requested testing and they forwarded our information onto the Mental Health department. Everything moved in super sonic speed in August, and I went in for a parent orientation. Then they called later on that day and set up an appt. with a child psychologist in another town for the next week. He recommended that our son be tested for ADHD (which was interesting because he didn't qualify two years ago), and they got him in later that week for the group screening time. These last 2 appointments happened to be the week before school started, and my poor husband had to go to the parent meeting by himself because I had to be at my contracted beginning of school meeting.
Then the wait started. Everything was supposed to take 4-6 weeks after they received the paperwork from us and his teacher from last year. Time dragged and school finally settled into a routine. A routine that included my 3rd grade son having a hard time keeping himself organized, of more and more temper tantrums before school and after school.
I was researching online about ODD and it seemed that he had every "symptom" listed. I blamed myself, but then got the wake up call that as parents we had done nothing wrong. What worked for our other 2 boys just wasn't working for him because his brain is wired differently.
Then the official call came in, and of course they wanted to meet with us. They don't want to meet with you in person if nothing is wrong. So we went in, and they told us the official diagnosis. ADHD and ODD. No surprise there. At least I had read about it. What surprised me was the depression that overtook me for the past 3 weeks. The reality that this is our life. I know that sounds bad. I had been hoping for years that his impulsiveness and stubbornness would be a phase. To learn that he will have hardships for years until that portion of his brain develops (which it develops at a slower pace than average kids), and that he will have to learn coping techniques... It was just more than a little overwhelming.
We have started behavior therapy because it's been known to work. 2 appointments into it and we have a plan. We are presently trying out the plan of "I need you to do this ____, and then you can do that____." It's all about rewards and retraining the brain to want to do those things that will cause him to get rewards. The therapist has said that he will fight us with these changes, that it's going to be more challenging as we are putting more intensity into changing the behavior. It's been a tough week. He is motivated because if this doesn't work the other plan is to take away everything in his room and he has to earn everything using a ticket system.
We went in for another dr. appointment and he started ADHD medication this past week. As a teacher, I have seen the beauty when meds work. I haven't seen the hardships that go on behind the scenes though. Of learning the hard way that he can't take his pill with milk because it will cause a stomach ache. That when it wears off around 4 he will become a bear to be around. Right now he's on the lowest dosage, and so far it's not helping him to completely focus yet. We have to give it another week or so, and then we can regroup.
In the meantime, since he has an official diagnosis, we have also asked for testing through school for any learning disabilities. If nothing else a 504 to make sure he gets accommodations when he needs them. Life is definitely not dull these days.
I guess I'm not putting this out there for any other reason to let you know where I've been. That I haven't fallen off the planet, just that my plate has been completely full. That once again I'm learning to give it all up to God, and let Him carry us through this difficult time.
Please keep my family in your prayers as we navigate the best plan of action for our son. We love him so much, and we want the best for him (like all parents do).