My son has ADHD, now what? (on our decision to medicate our child)
When I began this journey; this ADHD journey, with my son, I was lost.
I mean, I knew what ADHD was …didn’t I??
I had a vague idea, or so I thought. But as it turns out, I didn’t know what it was. Not really anyway.
I had heard the term, I had even used it –“ugh, you’re so ADHD, would you control yourself already!”
In the past when I had heard about someone with ADHD I would think to myself – Oh, ADHD? Really? Oh okay, so no big deal, right? WRONG!!
Yeah, but it’s not really real; it’s just an excuse parents use when they can’t control their kids, right? WRONG!!
But you can just have to control yourself or take a pill or something, right? WRONG!!
When I sought help for my son, I went in seeking anger management for my 5-year-old, after being told he was too young to have ADHD.
That’s pretty sad though, isn’t it? I mean really…, anger management …for a five-year old?
What does a 5-year-old have to be angry about anyway?
A LOT, apparently, especially when that child is neurologically disabled. There I said it, disabled.
Yes people, ADHD is a neurological disability! Life with ADHD is not a phase, it is not an excuse, it is not bad parenting, and it is not curable. And it is definitely not easy; not by a long shot. Not for the person who has to live with it; or for the people who have to live with them.
Once we sought professional help, getting the diagnosis for Leon was the easy part. Knowing what to do with it was not.
“My son has ADHD, now what?” Seriously! Now what? My guess is, that this is the question that plagues every parent that has just found out that their child is not the spawn of Satan, he just has ADHD. That and, “so what does this mean for our child?” and:
Well there’s always that little pill, right? WRONG!! …I mean right. No, I mean wrong, I mean maybe …it depends.
Right now, for us, for our son, it is right. But just because it is right for us, does not make it right for all people who suffer with ADHD.
No one wants to throw medication at a then, 5-year-old without cause or without exhausting all other avenues.
And we, the doctor included were no different.
I am not the type of person who thinks a pill can solve every problem. In fact I’d like to think I am the opposite especially where my son is concerned. But I’ve had to come to rely on medication for so much. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of medication in both myself and in my son.
Our decision to medicate Leon did not come easy, it took my husband and I several months to finally decide to try it out, once we felt that there was really no other recourse. And even after extensive research online, in books and magazines and in seeking the advice of several different professionals it was still a very hard decision to make.
The ultimate turning point for us was when my best friend who also happens to be a pediatric RN told us to look at the quality of his life. Will medicating him give him a better quality of life?
And the answer was yes. Before taking his medication he could not function normally at home, in school, or socially with friends. He was constantly struggling to be “good”. He could not stop himself from constantly moving around, staying in his seat was impossible for him. He was always in the spotlight as being the kid in trouble; his self-esteem was so low it was nonexistent. The daily stresses of just trying day after day to control his impulses were more than he could bear. His frustration with himself and the lack of understanding of why, when he so very badly wanted to be good, he just could not; turned to anger and self-hatred. The pain of watching my child, get off the school bus day after day in tears, because he loathed himself so much, is indescribable. So again if taking the right medication was going to stimulate the part of his brain that was misfiring and allow him to function in a way that he could gain more control over himself then yes, yes, yes, it would give him a much better quality of life.
He was a few weeks shy of six years old when he began taking medication regularly. We started very slowly and felt a sense of reassurance knowing that if it didn’t work then we would take him off of it at any time. He is now just a few weeks shy of his 8th birthday, and has been on medication ever since.
Has it helped him? That is a resounding YESSSS!! Is his quality of life better? Ever so much so!!
Is it really just as easy as popping a pill and you’re done with the whole mess? NO WAY!!! NO HOW!!!
This is has been a very bumpy ride; there has been nothing easy about it, least of all, medicating (Leon’s) ADHD. We have gone through 5 different medications up until this point. Some were very effective, until they weren’t any more for no other reasons than his system had become used to it or his growth required higher doses. And some were downright disasters! Disasters to the point of us nearly losing our son as a result of being on a medication that was completely wrong for him. But despite the nightmares we lived through, as a result of that, we would not change our decision to put him on medication. We also will never stop questioning if it continues to be the right choice.
And nothing, NOTHING is ever as easy as just popping a pill. Becoming healthy, being healthy and staying healthy will always require a bit of work. I am a true believer in that, and you will NEVER hear me say that medication alone is what helps my son. ADHD is a constant struggle, and medication is just one of the ways we combat Leon’s ADHD. As his special needs change so will our methods.