My ADHD Blues
by Teresa Lee Rainey
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Just a note to those who have voiced concern. . . It has been quite some time since Andrew was diagnosed. Medication was never used. I plan to explain what happened next, but haven't written it down yet.
My son, Andrew, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of seven. I didn't know what to expect when we finally decided to see a child psychologist. His young life had been full of incidents which reflected problematic tendencies linked with this diagnosis, but we had ignored them.
Although Andrew was a hyper child, I suppose my own pride hindered an earlier search for proper medical testing. My mother consistently noted how Andrew's actions forced memories of another child who acted just like him. I was quite certain she did not mean my lazy - or was that laid-back - brother, so I thought Andrew must be perfectly normal, because I had been a perfectly normal child. Constant mischievous behavior did not constitute a medical condition, right?
My mother's comparison allowed me to overlook many obvious signs of trouble in Andrew's early development. He practically never slept and was into everything. Similar tendencies were typical of other babies. Finding my toddler on top of the refrigerator one early morning simply proved he was a climber, I needed locks on cabinet drawers, and he was incredibly smart to use those drawers as stairs. Later, medication that calmed most children made Andrew run in circles and cry, "Mommy, I can't stop!" This was certainly a strange reaction, but the doctor said not to worry as other children had experienced the same response.
During Preschool and Kindergarten, Andrew's teachers were family friends and wonderfully tolerant women. They adored Andrew. He excelled in their classrooms, but obvious signs of future problems were overlooked.
My husband, John, and I now clearly recall those early warning signs.
Andrew was unable to properly relate to his peers. He often spoke at inappropriate times, refused to wait his turn, was caught day-dreaming, and failed to complete assignments on time. Because Andrew was so loved by his teachers, the incomplete assignments became homework and his inappropriate behavior was overlooked.
Somewhere during those first years of school, nagging questions began to occasionally invade my thoughts. Why did Andrew almost never finish his math assignments along with the rest of his class? Why did he come home crying and telling me, "Nobody likes me."?
At times, his misbehavior was even encouraged due to his charm. I will never forget his kindergarten teacher chuckling while informing me of one incident. She said, "I probably should have punished Andrew for day-dreaming today, but before I could say anything he leaned across his desk and began singing to the little girl in front of him."
Andrew's charm did not impress his first grade teacher. I'll call her Ms. Strict. My nagging thoughts of a possible problem became continual verbal reprimands as she informed me often of his need for medication.
I'm not typically a vindictive person, but I had heard of Ms. Strict's notorious classroom temper. Her concerns over Andrew's behavior were taken seriously and he received proper discipline at home. However, I seriously denied any need for ADHD testing. Didn't children with ADHD do poorly in school? Andrew was excelling in academics. I secretly thought God was trying to teach her a lesson in patience through my son's defiance.
It was difficult to contain my amusement when told, "Andrew is the first child I've ever known who can keep his bottom in a chair and still find unique ways to move about." Another serious conference came about when she "drew a line for Andrew to stand on". Although his feet remained stationary, he "rolled his head around until he became dizzy and fell".
Unfortunately for Ms. Strict, Andrew was the least of her worries. When investigated, many complaints of actual physical and mental abuse throughout her teaching career were brought to light. She became the physical education coach the following year and soon transferred elsewhere.
The one positive influence Ms. Strict offered was a desperate desire to prove her unprofessional diagnosis wrong. After a year of being told to have Andrew tested, I complied. John researched possible doctors and made the appointment with a highly recommended child psychologist.
Upon initially checking in at the appointed clinic, we were ushered into the psychologist's office and informed of the procedures that would ensue. After giving the good doctor a brief family history, John and I were given a mountain of paperwork to fill out as Andrew took his turn on the proverbial couch and went through numerous psychological and intellectual tests.
I slowly recognized that my desire for an alternative diagnosis was highly unlikely as John and I filled in each answer of our massive assignment. Those lists of questions regarding inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive behavior described Andrew perfectly. How could I have been so blind?
(to be continued)
The current list of ADHD symptoms listed below was found at www.chadd.org .
AD/HD predominately inattentive type: (AD/HD-I)5:
Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
Has difficulty sustaining attention.
Does not appear to listen.
Struggles to follow through on instructions.
Has difficulty with organization.
Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
Is easily distracted.
Is forgetful in daily activities.
AD/HD predominately hyperactive-impulsive type: (AD/HD-HI)5:
Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
Has difficulty remaining seated.
Runs about or climbs excessively.
Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
Acts as if driven by a motor.
Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
Difficulty waiting or taking turns.
Interrupts or intrudes upon others.
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I am new to FaithWriters.com and I really appreciate your openess and willingness to share this story here. I believe I am an Adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity. I have plans to see a new docter and to deal with it from a nutritional and physical activity perpective with the help of the Lord. Thanks so much for your article.
Teresa, I agree with Dave's comments. My grandson has many of the tendencies on your list, his mom now homeschools him. Most of all, as a mom it, is improtant to follow your heart, and your instincts for your child. What is right for one, may not be the answer for all. Blessings, Rita
As someone who fits the description perfectly, I beg you please, do not be too quick to rush into using meds for children. I have been through a lot in my teenaged years, and I can tell you from experience that your son is not worse off than anyone. He learns different, he is different. Suppressing someone's expression is like leaving a top on a Soda bottle and shaking it up. It creates a mess inside and there is no release. No ability to learn to deal with others because the meds are simply a band-aid not a fix for any relational problems we might experience. The Lord is my comfort and my guide, heck he even helps me concentrate when I need to ....Ha Ha Ha. I think that medication is for Lazy uncaring parents who want to kill the spirit of there children. (only my opinion) God bless you, sincerely . Dave Mulford