What Works for One

I’m fairly certain that my words here will add nothing new to the conversation and intelligent commentary that already exists on the topic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  But as is so often the case, I am compelled to write if for no other reason than to help me process complex emotions and burgeoning insights.

So, if you will indulge me, I will begin . . .

That Edgar is an active child is not news of the day.  That he engages with his world in a way that is different from the way I do, the way his brothers do, perhaps the way you do is not a revelation.  That he is intelligent and creative and funny and sweet is an understatement.

Throughout his young life, Edgar has had his share of redirecting, of reprimands.  His behavior has attracted attention—and not always in a way that was in his best interest.   He is surrounded by love; but unlike those who love him, the rest of the world does not always give him the opportunity, the leisure to showcase his myriad gifts.  To find Edgar’s best, you have to spend time with him, be attentive.  And the world we live in cannot always do that.

When Edgar was diagnosed with epilepsy, he told us repeatedly that he did not like his body.  As his mother, I became acutely aware of the sadness he was experiencing—a young, beautiful soul housed in a body that regularly betrayed him.

Then as quickly and inexplicably as his seizures came, they went; and new behaviors seemed to emerge—or, more accurately, new extremes of existing behaviors came to the forefront.   School was painful.  Relationships were suffering.  And just like the seizures brought on by epilepsy much of his behavior was beyond his control.

His neurologist—the neurologist we trust with our son’s life –watched him move throughout the exam room at a very recent appointment.  She understood that his movements were compulsions, that the behavior he was exhibiting was not anything anyone would “choose.”  She asked me to think about his needs—something I—until that moment—believed I always had at the forefront of any decision-making.  She’s a scientist and approached this scientifically:  If you have a Vitamin D deficiency, you take a supplement.  If you have a dopamine deficiency, you take a supplement.  She asked us to consider medication—that we owed it to Edgar to try, to see if it would make a difference.

Labels have always bothered me.  And I have always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder regarding medication—having seen side effects on some children that have left me speechless.  But I listened carefully to Edgar’s doctor’s words: If this is all he ever needed and we didn’t try it, we would regret it.  And I knew then that I couldn’t let my own prejudices and perceptions stand in the way of what might be best for my son.  His needs must necessarily trump mine—now and always.

IMG_2317Edgar has ADHD, and this week he started a medication.  And, yes, it’s working.  What he was missing he now has—and the results have been remarkable.  And at long last, the rest of the world is going to know him, see him at his best.  Life will be easier for him; he will have the opportunity to begin to make peace with his body and with his mind.

One of Edgar’s teachers said this week that the most exciting change she has noticed was Edgar’s smile—that he is smiling in the morning and in the afternoon.

Each person’s journey to balance, to happiness, to peace is his or her own.  And thanks to my seven-year-old son I now understand that in a way that my stubborn self never allowed me to before.

Edgar regularly moves me in ways I can barely articulate, and this week he helped me to shed long-held biases and expanded my understanding of human beings and the world we live in.

And I find myself pondering how I ever got so lucky.

60 thoughts on “What Works for One

  1. Your luck is shared–Edgar is very lucky.
    Can you imagine Edgar with other parents and other siblings. The thought is enough to shake one back to reality.
    He will be an individual and hopefully one who accepts himself.
    He so wants to “fit in,” and “belong.”
    His confidence will grow.
    He’s not outgrowing himself but on the road to “outcrowing” himself.
    Every good wish.
    Peace,

  2. What a beautifully articulate article. So many parents think raising children is all about teaching them. When in actuality, they are teaching us about ourselves-if we are open to allow it-as Samantha so profoundly expressed. And what makes her an amazing mother and person.

  3. Samantha, I found out I had ADHD when I was 40 and medication has changed my life. It has changed Jeffrey’s too and I am getting Sassy tested soon. It is very real and beyond frustrating to grow up with this disorder. Bravo to you for taking this step (I KNOW it is not easy to do!!!!) Love to you and Edgar as he works it out. All the best, Betty

  4. You have once again touched me with your writing and with the beautiful way you see and understand your children. Thank you for sharing this…

  5. This is a love story in so many ways. Breaking out of our comfort zone entails taking risks. You are a wonderful role model for your son and for others. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Samantha,
    I can relate to this on so many ways when Matthew was first diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome his doctor told us it does not change who he is and to not but a label on him. Matthew benefits from his ADHD medicine during the school year. We do not give it to him on weekends or when school is out. He came home one day after school this year and said to me “Mom I forgot to take my medicine today, no wonder I was so annoying”! It was the first time he could ever realized how his medicine actually helps him in school. Edgar will always be the wonderful boy he is and ADHD will never change that.

  7. I agree that parenting is a transformative experience – I am a much better person because of all the things my children have taught me, about myself and what it is to be truly human. Thanks for sharing your articulate and heartfelt journey with us!

  8. Thank you for perspective this beautiful morning — your words are very powerful. And yes, a smile is an important thing…to many, this time of year and always.

    Congratulations on your moving post, being Freshly Pressed and the gift of perspective you have been granted AND given to others!
    :)

  9. Minus the epilepsy, Edgar sounds like me when I was young. I have ADHD, and have taken a number of medications over the years. That, plus patience, counseling, and a bit of meditation have molded me into an adult who, although a little eccentric, is warmly loved and gets through life pretty much okay. I wish you the best of luck with your son, and don’t be surprised if his neurologist suggests a new medication; what I was taking changed over the years as I grew older and needed new medications to deal with different things.

  10. The only thing I know for sure about parenting is that I do the best I can every day and I live in constant fear that it’s not enough. I’m glad you took a chance for your son and that it is helping him.

  11. I hear you and had to make a similar decision. I was very anti-medication. But when I started to see the negative consequences multiplying, I caved. I’m so glad I did. And glad you did. He’s lucky to have a mom that cares so much

  12. Thank you for speaking honestly about a subject very close to my heart. Congratulations, also, on this lovely opportunity to lend a voice to so many parents and children sharing your experience.

  13. Reading this just comes after I sent multiple school personnel an email regarding my oldest son’s acedemic performence. I keep hearing the mantra over and over…give him medication. I slowly am just hoping he “will grow out of it” and that his grades will improve. I am so torn as I can tell you were as well. I am going to ponder what you have written here and continue to follow your successes hopefully. Thank you for sharing – I know the struggle, the fear and that I want nothing more than my child to succeed. Thank you and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  14. Thank you for this blog post. I’m in the process of getting my Special Education credential, so along with Autism, ADHD is a big component of the program and it is really great to read different perspectives of parents whose children have ADHD.

    Wonderful to hear that things are working out well for Edgar and that he is making great progress in school.

  15. My granddaughter has the same issues as your little guy and is now taking medication.She is in fourth grade and my heart nearly burst when she told me,Nana I love being able to focus.She is now an A B student and her life has changed.Thank you for such a beautiful post.

  16. WOW. This left me in tears. So similar, on a different side of the spectrum, from what I was just saying Friday (on my blog) about why we homeschool. Your son is smiling now. What wouldn’t a mother give for that! :) Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  17. The toughest parts of life are decisions like these. It seems enormous…like there’s no room for error…but all you can do is your best at the time. It sounds, for now, like you’re at peace- which is always a good sign- and no decision is irrevocable (usually…), so do what you think is best now, knowing you can always go another way if things seem to take a turn in another direction.

    Hang in there…your head and heart are in the right place, and you’re doing your utmost to give your son the best opportunities in life. No one else knows him like you do, so trust your gut. All the best, and congrats on being FP!

  18. Great post. Thanks for sharing this. You are an amazing Mother. I understand how frustrating it can be. My youngest daughter is a non-verbal Autistic. Stay strong (((BIG HUG))) :D

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  19. Your blog reminded me of my own life so I totally understand what a huge decision putting your child on medication is as we went through the same thing when our son was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and that is the sole reason I entered the world of blogging, us mums need an outlet too. All the best.

  20. Sounds like you have an excellent and caring ped neuro on board. ADD/ADHD is a neurological disorder, same as epilepsy (actually, the two are often comorbid). I’m glad the meds are working for your sweetie.

  21. I totally understand the difficult decision this must have been for you. My youngest son is profoundly deaf and I had to make the decision to put him through two cochlear implant operations hoping that they would open up a whole new world for him but with no guarantee they’d work and certainly not without huge risk. Being a mum is so rewarding and making decisions that might be controversial with others is so hard. You are very brave and it’s lovely to read how things are turning out. Fingers crossed it all goes from strength to strength.

  22. Interesting post, we have just started working with an educational psychologist to help my son. I like the vitamin D analogy but I do still feel that if you had a deficiency, you might pop the pill, but you should also try to find out why you aren’t getting enough, increasing your natural levels rather than rely solely on a tablet. Not that I am saying you are, it is just my concern with medication that you then stop all other techniques and investigations. Very nice to hear of things working out.

  23. I’m so happy you took this excellent advice. Unfortunately, my brother and sister-in-law didn’t. They fought against their son having “the label” and continue to deny any problems. Unfortunately, their son is now an alienated adult in jail.

  24. good for you and edgar. my son was recently dxed with aspergers. he is 10. it came as a relief to us. we did not fully agree with his add as the sole reason for his issues. we actually tried several meds and took him off last year. his doc thinks it is more the anxieties that cause him to lose focus. so he takes a low dose med for that which seems to work.) as we begin this journey I try to keep in mind he perceives the world differently than most. but what if it is the rest of us that need fine-tuning in our perceptions? i’d be lying if I said it was easy. most days are chaotic and extremely frustrating. currently we are seeking counseling, social skills group, and a tutor to help him with his weak areas. as parents, we all want the same things for our children. at the top of my list is a happy child, a well-adjusted child, a healthy child….the list could go on. I want my child to remember his childhood as positive. how lucky are those of us that actually have options? it would be a disservice to our children to not exhaust each choice to see what works best. no regrets.

  25. that brought tears to me, and touched my soul. I learned in your piece that you have to take risks sometimes for the improvement and happiness of the people you love. Write on! You moved me today. :-)

  26. Being a teacher for 10 years and a parent for 5 years, I have seen many families struggle with making decisions regarding testing and medication. Having a husband who is a doctor has made me more open to the possibilities nd hope that medication provides so many with. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to live a natural lifestyle (which I definitely do sometimes). We must realize that a happy life requires balance. When we act in the best interests and love of our children, we never will hav regrets. I hope those smiles keep coming!

  27. I also live in RI and have three sons….one behaves and learns very differently than the other two. I’ve always felt that if this interfered with his having friendships and feeling good about school that i would consider medication. Haven’t had to do this yet but understand how hard that decision could be! You are very brave and loving to do what you believe is right for your son!

  28. I am so happy to have come across your blog. My 10 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD this week. I am hoping that medication will help him. He is a joy! I have known for a long time that he needed to be diagnosed it was obvious. I brought him home and homeschooled him. We were both frustrated. I tried focus factor for kids and saw no change. I tried all the tricks but nothing worked. He made more progress academically at home because I had the luxury of giving him frequent breaks and sitting with him and redirecting him. This has grown old and I am beating myself up that I waited so long. I am walking in your shoes. I excused myself by telling myself that I just didn’t have the time to take him in. (I am a family teaching parent along with my husband and we have 8 teens in our care, so between meetings, ISP’s, IEP’s, doctor appointments, court training, etc I felt justified). I deal with kids with this problem all the time. They live with me. I have 2 right now on ADHD medications that I give out every day. I did not want to see my son have to take daily medication. The thing that really woke me up is one day a couple of weeks ago, my boy looked at me and said with frustration “I don’t think my brain works right!” I knew it was time. Thanks for the blog. Feel free to read mine, I only started it this month about my group home life. I will not leave my name because I have to be careful due to confidentiality issues of my job.

  29. You say it ever so much more eloquently than I’ve ever attempted. Both my children have ADHD and take meds for it. I try to see it as a gift, not as something to be ‘fixed’.

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