I normally keep things light ‘n’ crafty here, but because this also serves as a journal of sorts, and because I suspect I am far from alone in this struggle, I thought I would post a bit of what our family has been going through lately.
Reece has been identified as having ADHD – officially. I say officially, because I have suspected it for quite a while. Well, the ADD part at least. The ‘H’ was a surprise. While he’s not necessarily “hyper” in the customary bouncing-off-the-walls sense, his tests showed enough brain impulsivity to qualify him for the ‘H’ part. There could also be an additional learning or processing disorder in the mix, but we need to wait to test for that until we get a handle on the ADHD. One step at a time.
Since he has not ever exhibited any overt behavior problems at school (other than zoning out), Reece has pretty much flown under the radar. He is not a squeaky wheel, just an easy-going underachiever. Add that to the current California school budget debacle that has increased class sizes and cut services down to the bare bones (with even more cuts yet to come), and we have a gaping loophole in “no child left behind”. Not to mention two and a half years of disappointing parent-teacher conferences, grades that just don’t gel with what I know his potential to be, daily homework battles, and no concrete answers or solutions. His teachers have run the gamut from suggesting it was a parenting issue, to chalking it up to “being a boy”, to being just plain baffled by the incongruities. Even his pediatrician, who is a bona fide, published authority on the subject of ADD, was in a “wait and see” holding pattern until this year. I could write about 947 paragraphs on how frustrating it has been, and another 382 on the challenges, behavior problems, and general uproar all of this has created at home. But I’m not going there, because I am choosing to look forward.
As much as I hate kids being labeled with anything, this diagnosis is a HUGE relief for me amongst the profusion of feelings I’m experiencing. I am sad that there is a biological issue that makes things harder for my child, and I am concerned about how teachers and others will judge him with that label attached. ADHD evokes some unsavory stereotypes…expectations that I don’t want Reece to learn to live down to. But the bottom line? We finally have an answer – a list of characteristics that can be attributed to something besides laziness, or deliberate stubbornness, or something requiring an exorcism. (Kidding on that last one! Mostly.)
It’s a starting place, with a plan of action being formed. The specialist we’re working with is really cutting edge, and Reece is a good candidate for some very exciting neurofeedback therapy (kind of like a video game he plays with his brain instead of a handheld controller). It has the potential to circumvent the need for meds, and retrain certain areas of his brain to function more optimally. It completely amazes me that testing exists that allows his doctor to pinpoint these exact areas of his brain, and I feel very lucky to live near one of the few centers in the country doing this type of therapy.
We are at the very beginning of a long and daunting process, but it feels like we are finally moving in the right direction – towards a better understanding of what makes Reece tick and how to help him be more successful. So among all those other feelings that come with this diagnosis, I feel truly hopeful for the first time in quite a while.