"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 23:18
Let’s talk about ADD. Attention Deficit Disorder. Lack of attention. Inability to focus. Executive order problems. Forgetful. Being scatterbrained. Social ineptitude. Impulsive.
These words, among others, have been used to describe my child. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess. I won’t say which child, but really that’s only because the other one hasn’t gone through the official “diagnosis” process and probably never will. You see, my children are borderline ADD.
As am I – admitting it is the first step, right? I take all these labels personally, as if it is MY fault, although my husband admits he was a bit of a daydreamer as a child too. We’re fighting genetics!
Anyway, my kids have been plagued since beginning school with not conforming to the rigors, expectations, and distractions of the public classroom. Teachers complain, principals call, and recesses are taken away. They are square pegs trying to be shoved into round holes.
I have been told for YEARS that something is WRONG with my kids. And I began to believe it.
I began to nitpick every time they forgot their lunchbox at school. I freaked every time they forgot a homework page. I began questioning whether or not they had a learning disability when they failed to retain information. Weekly, I would make a mental tally of all the times I’d had to remind them twice about something and it began to add up.
Maybe there WAS something wrong with my kids!
So, even though the teacher would start telling me about all the problems she’d had with HER son every time we talked about MY son, I decided to take her advice and consult with my pediatrician. (It should be noted that my husband was not in agreement, but he did fill out his “parent” survey paper on behaviors and social interactions.) The teacher submitted her papers as well and the pediatrician said, “I’m seeing some tendencies of mild ADD.” Then she turned into the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons and pretty much said, “Mwah, mwah, wah, wah, mwah, mwah.” What I did take from the conversation was “…9YO on a controlled dangerous substance that you’ll have to register with the Bureau of Narcotics to be able to pick up at the pharmacy….. appetite suppressant, so you may want to LOAD UP at the Chinese buffet on the weekends.”
I asked what we had to gain my medicating him. She said he would have more learning opportunities and would be able to be more successful in the classroom.
I told her, “Keep in mind that he is a straight A student and is already in Gifted and Talented.”
She then had a puzzled look on her face and said, “Well then, in your case, not a lot. I typically see patients who are in peril of being held back in school. Here’s the prescription. If you don’t want to medicate him, don’t medicate him.”
At this and other doctor appointments throughout his nine years, I’d mentioned to the doctor that he was stiff, asymmetrical, and walked on his toes a lot. We actually took him to the doctor because his left ribcage was protruding farther than his right in his abdomen area and the doctor laughed at us and said it was totally normal and sent us home without a charge. This will be important later.
Anyway, in shock from our controlled dangerous substance discussion, I began to research alternative methods for treating ADD. I say “research”. Google was my laboratory. My friend, who has a slightly autistic son whom she homeschools, had told me she’d started giving him a cup of coffee in the morning before starting his school work and that it really helped him to focus. So caffeine was where I started.
Based on internet calculations, I determined that my child could safely consume up to a half a caffeine pill as an alternate to the prescription drug. I called my pediatrician, jubilant that I’d found something common that I wanted to try before trying medication. She quickly shot me down, telling me she did not recommend caffeine for children his age.
Wait a minute…. You would prefer a controlled dangerous substance over caffeine?
I got a second opinion from my pharmacist who said she would ABSOLUTELY try the caffeine pills over the prescription drug. And that was good enough for me!
I told the teacher that I was not willing to medicate him and that I would be giving him caffeine pill every morning before school. And that was the end of that. She never commented on his lack of focus for the rest of the school year, and he ended up with high Bs and As as his final grades.
During this time too, we took him to a pediatric neurologist for the toe walking who didn’t see any immediate concerns, but wanted to do a sleep-deprived MRI, just in case, and had him evaluated for physical therapy due to stiffness with his gross motor skills. Naturally, the physical therapy office wanted to sign us up for six months worth of appointments for which I would receive an immediate 15% discount if I pre-paid.
None of these appointments gave me the warm fuzzies!
I quickly cancelled all future appointments, relying on my gut instinct. Then I gave it one more try and took him to the orthopedist we’d used twice with his brother’s broken arms because I felt like he would shoot me straight. He assured me that nothing was physically awry in his feet or legs, but it would be up to my son to fix the way he walks and carries himself. He said we could do all the physical therapy in the world, but that if it wasn’t a problem for my son and he continued to walk on his toes, he would undo every bit of progress we would make. He looked right at my son and said, “It’s up to you, buddy. Mom wants to help you, but Mom can only do so much.” He said regular exercise, stretching, and sports activities would help with his stiffness. We continued to play soccer and swam during the summer.
And then summer was over, and he was back to his old tricks, but with a new teacher in a new grade. She is quick to communicate with me her concerns, which I appreciate. Better than going along thinking everything is hunky dory and then one day having a bombshell dropped on you that your kid has been having a problem for six months and this is the first you’ve heard of it. Not that I’m bitter…
Anyway, she had some serious concerns about his ability to handle this grade’s school work and his ability to focus in the classroom. She said it was causing him unnecessary and undue stress in the classroom and at home.
And so, I contacted the Special Education Services office at my school system. I told them I wanted him tested for a 504 plan under other health issues. I told them I wanted him evaluated for modifications in the classroom. I was told they would have a meeting and then decide if he needed to be evaluated.
This was during the week of Fall Parent/Teacher Conferences. We’d started playing Fall Soccer and had met a nice family on the sidelines in which the dad was a chiropractor. His office was in Tulsa and his wife talked to me about chiropracting on numerous occasions.
Now, let’s get my opinions of chiropractors out of the way. I was not a fan of chiropractors. I’d had spinal manipulations all my life, but I always went to a D.O. instead of a chiropractor. I don’t know why. My family just saw D.O.s. I began to think that chiropracting was a racket when I worked for the government and had a co-worker who would get out of work assignments on a regular basis because “she had to go to the chiropractor.” (Say that in a whiney voice.) So I wouldn’t say that I thought they were a bunch of quacks, but that wouldn’t be far off.
So we’d met this chiropractor, and I’d talked to his wife on the soccer field. Then, one of the ladies whom I do exercise classes at the Y, out of the blue, says to me one day, “Hey, is your son still having trouble paying attention in school? Because we’ve been taking my grandson to the chiropractor and now he’s off his medication and everything.” Weird. Two chiropractor coincidences.
Then we had our Parent/Teacher Conference. We went all through the meeting with the teacher telling us what behaviors our son needed to work on and what he does typically in the classroom instead of his school work. Yet his grades remained high. My husband and I were feeling beat down and destitute and without a clue as to what to do next. So I asked the teacher, “If he was your kid, what would you do?”
She said, “Off the record?” (I agreed, but I guess it’s on the record now….)
She said, “Now this is going to sound weird, but I’d take him to a chiropractor.”
The hub and I looked at each other like “whoa, that was weird,” and we left with the distinct feeling that someone was trying to tell us something. I made our son a chiropractic appointment the next day, the day before his 10th birthday, and the same day the school decided he wasn’t bad enough to be evaluated for a 504 plan.
*To be continued………………….