Monday, December 2, 2013

Because labels can be a good thing

There seems to be a debate going on as to whether or not people (especially children) should be slapped with a label: ADD/ADHD, Apraxia, CP, and so on. While I agree that people should not be ONLY their label and you should not be DEFINED by a label, I think labels are a good thing. Like with food labels, a well diagnosed, well placed label helps me understand what is inside the "package" (person) better. With a label, I can get help for my child.

In this case, yes, we have another label slapped on a kid in our house: ADD/ADHD, inattentive type.


I wasn't surprised. This kidlet has had problems at school that only increased as school work got harder. In many ways, this is a bit of a hard won label too: I had been asking teachers about this possibility since she was little, but got, "Well, she's making progress. She has friends. You're doing everything you can." When I specifically asked, "Should my kid be tested?" I got hemming and hawing.

 It turns out that the tides have turned since I was getting my degree. Back then, we couldn't say to a parent, "Look, I've been teaching a darn long time and your kid is bouncing off the walls and can't pay attention to a tap dancing elephant if it was standing on his face. Get 'em tested for ADD." Why? Well, for one thing, ADD/ADHD is a medical diagnosis. It means something in a person's brain is wired funny. That diagnosis should be made by medical professionals WITH the input of the parents and teacher. For another, if a teacher even hints at "your kid needs this to succeed at school" then the district could be sued to cover the costs of testing or medication. We live in a very law suit happy area.

It's even worse now. I now completely understand why I felt like teachers were trying to shove me out of the room during conferences! They are not allowed to breathe or hint of "your kid might have a problem" even when the parents says, "Look. I get where you are coming from. I do. But something is wrong with my kid and I can't help her unless you give me a direction in which to go. Help me help her!"

It is so, so frustrating. We don't have the money to have anyone tested willy-nilly. I'm not the type of parent who thinks her little darling is a spesual snowflake who never, ever does anything wrong and of course it must be a problem with the school/government/weather/gluten/whatever. Dude, I have two kids on IEPs already! I admitted her father and myself have or had an ADD diagnosis. I told them that many family members are dyslexic. Her BROTHERS have a neurological disorder. All I got was, "Hem. Haw."

I don't blame the school or the teachers. Their hands are tied because someone else decided to abuse the system. Sadly, it made it all the harder for me to figure out how to help my child.

Anyway, I finally e-mailed the teacher and bluntly told her our concerns. Enough red flags were raised that I said, "Screw this" and made an appointment with our doctor. After he and teacher exchanged information, we got a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and a recommendation to begin medication.

I am not opposed to medication. I myself take medication, although not for this. Before I put her on it, I wanted to make sure we had done everything possible for her- healthy fats, fish oils, protein, positive redirection, all that jazz. And you know what? We were. The school is. This is what is left.

We started right after Thanksgiving, in order to monitor her at home for possible reactions. I myself wanted to see if this worked for her.

You know what? It does. I still have my daughter but it was like a veil has been lifted. It was almost like she was looking at the world through a film and the film is gone, allowing her to function in a clearer manner. When she's on the medication, she's not as whiney and speaks in a normal seven year old voice, rather than this grating baby voice she has. I took her to the fabric store with me and she stayed by my side instead of wandering everywhere and touching everything. I had a conversation with her and I felt like she was listening and really thinking about choices when we went to a clothing store. She seems to fight less with her brothers.

I'm writing this Sunday night. The REAL test will be this coming week at school. She has to take it at lunch and I need to get unbiased reports from her teacher as to how she is doing at school. I am not expecting miracles but I hoping that, without the fog surrounding her brain, she will be able to focus, study and learn and catch up to her peers.

One can hope, right?

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