So. I know some of you may be wondering about the utterly disgusting sponge. We will get there. I promise. But not today. Today I thought I’d talk about Slugger.
So as I discussed before, Slugger has been diagnosed with ADHD with ODD. The Oppositional Definiace Disorder never came as a surprise to me. If anything I was more surprised that there was a disorder to fit what I thought was just a serious personality flaw. I spent countless hours wondering where I went wrong and why the basic concepts of human interaction just didn’t make sense to my child. I was actually a little more than relieved to know this was something wrong with his “wiring” if you will, and not just him intentionally trying to hurt people with his lack of empathy. That might sound horrible, but trust me when I say knowing he has little control over it makes it a fraction easier to tolerate. Just a fraction.
Now on the other hand, ADHD was something I didn’t see coming and have struggled with accepting since he was first diagnosed. He doesn’t exhibit the typical signs and behaviors associate with ADHD. In fact, I didn’t notice any hyper activity or restlessness UNTIL we put him on medication. That being said, maybe I’ve put too much trust into doctors and modern medicine. Even though I was super aware of how often kids are diagnosed with ADHD, and even though I know we live in a society that is quick to throw a label on everyone and everything, I also know that I am not a medical professional. That I need to be open and try to cooperate. With in reason.
So at the time Slugger was first labeled “ADHD” I had to consider the signs and symptoms that prompted the diagnosis. He was struggling with basic tasks and school work. When I would try to help him, I’d be met with resistance in the form of “I just can’t.” Or “I don’t get it. I’m stupid.” That last phrase in particular led me to believe that maybe he wasn’t grasping the concepts being presented to him and that there had to be an underlying reason why. So I entertained the notion that it may actually be ADHD and we would treat it as such with hopes of improvement.
Two psychiatrists, two therapists, and several different medications later, I wasn’t seeing any results. If anything, we went through a period where the cocktail of medications he was on starting causing terrible changes to his moods. He was acting legitimately crazy. We got to a point where I was actually considering inpatient treatment just to keep him safe from himself. It was a dark, dark time. Thankfully, it was as simple as taking him off all the meds and letting him even back out. It was at this point that we changed doctors. (Needless to say I was less than happy with the way things were handled with the first one.)
This is point where Slugger wanted to get creative with what he told the doctor and decided to blame his behavior on ghosts telling him what to do. Which got us a temporary diagnosis of schizophrenia until he confessed to making it all up. (Heaven help me). Eventually we once again ended up with an ADHD/ODD diagnosis and the doctor prescribed a new medication. Just one. (Lesson learned)
So after months of taking this new medication, I saw little to no change. It was around this time that we learned his therapist was leaving the practice to have a baby and would not be returning and we now had to hunt down a new one. I may have been just a little more than frustrated. It seemed like we just could not win and having to find someone new and build a relationship with that person all over again was the LAST thing I wanted to do. But we had no choice. Let me just add here, if this had all been for me, at this point I would have given up. I felt alone and abandoned. At every step, it was like pulling teeth to get someone willing to help us.
We found a new therapist. I knew instantly upon meeting her that she was going to be different. Every other therapist had been the sweet, nurturing, safe zone kind of therapist. Which is great for some people. But not my son. Slugger has the ability to find a week spot and work it. He takes advantage of kindness. He avoided speaking to therapists for years and our weekly sessions turned into play time for him. Which would have been fine if he answered questions and cooperated while he played. But he didn’t.
The very first meeting with the the new therapists, I watched her put him in his place. And that’s when I knew THIS was what we needed. She didn’t allow him to run the show. She didn’t allow him to argue and fight. And while her blunt manner would certainly be a turn off to some, it was exactly the kind of no nonsense authority we needed to get anywhere with Slugger. No loopholes here, kid.
And our next psychiatrist appointment, I decided to address the fact that I didn’t think Slugger’s medication was working. I sat there explaining to this man, who had terrible bedside manner, that my son was driving me crazy and I didn’t know what else to do. While having this conversation, my children were destroying his office, which definitely made it that much better. He expressed zero empathy. In fact, he almost made it seem like I was bothering him. He proceeded to explain to me that Slugger’s ADHD wasn’t really the problem. That no amount of medication could make him do something he didn’t want to do. It was his ODD that I was describing and only behavior modification could fix that. I’m pretty sure it was about this time that I wailed “We’re screwed!” through ugly tears. And I really felt that way. How do you make someone do something they don’t want to do? It was like trying to solve an enigma. With no help. I dragged my kids out to the car and cried.
Shortly after that meeting, I received a letter in the mail letting me know our psychiatrist was also leaving the practice and we would have to find another one. I wanted to throw my hands up and scream. We had enough medication to last us two months and I figured I would run off of that and come up with a new plan as we started to run out.
In the meantime, we had been working on behavior modification with his therapist. We were starting to see some results in school it was actually getting completed. Where we had ended the previous grade with Slugger out right refusing to do his work, we were a couple month into the new school year with grades actually on the rise.
So three weeks ago, I made the decision. No more meds. His therapis agreed as well. We had a nice long talk about how ADHD may not even be on the table and it just might be anxiety presenting as ADHD. Which would certainly explain more than a few things. At this stage, there has been no change with Slugger. School work is getting done, some days more easily than others. But there is zero change in his ability to do the work. None. So as of now I stand by my choice and am always open to medication in the future if we decide it’s needed.
So why share this long, boring story with only a semi-ending? Well, here’s how I see it. Anytime you hear a story like Slugger’s, you hear a much shorter version a that usually consists of “We had this problem, took this med, and now things are so much better!” You rarely hear about how hard it is to find someone willing to help. Or how hard it is to find someone who doesn’t just see dollar signs when you walk in the door. I never imagined how hard this would be and just how much I would have to advocate for my son. Granted, this was the super abridge version. But next time you see a kid acting a damn fool, or lashing out at others, maybe you’ll consider there might be an issue there and maybe that family is trying desperately to get the help they need.
Help lift each other up. That’s all.