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Diagnosis ADHD

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ADHD. Those letters loomed large in front of me. I’d heard them before, and had even commented in passing that I feared my boys (four and six) suffered from it, although I never fully believed they suffered from it. Well, that was until last week.

My fear was realized. I use the term ‘fear’ loosely, however. True fear was last fall when I spent five days waiting for test results from a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node on my oldest son. I truly felt a weight lift from my shoulders when the nurse said his cancer panel was negative.

We all have hopes and dreams for our children, and when we realize that there is going to be a stumbling block placed in front of them, we fear the unknown, the uncertainty.

Sometime during the many months of my son’s counseling sessions, his child therapist had given his teacher and myself Vanderbilt testing forms to fill out. We reviewed the results of the forms together and they weren’t very favorable. The therapist and I agreed not to address it with the pediatrician just yet, and to continue counseling through the summer. I was fearful of being accused of taking the easy way out by sticking him on medication right away.

Two weeks into first grade, my opinion began to shift.

“He is not focusing on his work. Could you please speak with him?” said the note from the teacher. This was on the second day of class.

“I am having trouble getting Pierce to focus on his work again today,” said an email less than a week later.

“He’s crying every time we try to talk to him or work on his homework with him,” I was told in a phone call later that same afternoon from our church after school program.

Something had to be done. If it was not ADD/ADHD, then my son was definitely experiencing some anxiety issues that I was ill prepared to handle in a six year-old. Having long suffered from anxiety issues myself, I knew that I benefited greatly from daily medication and counseling. A visit to the pediatrician was definitely in order.

She reviewed the Vanderbilt forms and some of Pierce’s schoolwork. She listened as I described his behavior. She observed him in the office, where he was not being ‘bad’ or ‘mischievous,’ but was constantly on the move.

Diagnosis: ADHD. The pediatrician had no doubts; telling me that if she had any doubts, she would recommend counseling and not prescribe medication. If it were her own son, she said she would try medication.

So we left the office with a prescription for Focalin, which we started the very next morning.

“I have seen a change already! He has kept up with all the work so far today!!!” said the email from his teacher after I notified her of what had occurred the afternoon before.

“He finished all of his homework in about half the time and even had time to do a few extra sheets. Now he’s playing,” were the words said to me when I picked my boys up from the after school program.

I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical that the medication could work that quickly, but Pierce’s counselor assured me that it could and most likely had.

Now comes what I deem the hardest part: learning to live with the diagnosis. No, it is not life threatening, and for that, I am grateful. However, it is a stumbling block; one I really never considered. Just as a child who is diagnosed with juvenile diabetes (although that can be life threatening and much more severe than ADHD), it is a diagnosis with which we must learn to function.

Like so many other issues and events, the actual “patient” is not the only one affected by the diagnosis. For us to overcome it as a family, it will require changes by all of us. My son’s counselor suggested adjusting our morning, afternoon and evening routines to create clear structure and boundaries. She said that better organization in our home will also help him focus better and prevent him from being overwhelmed with too many choices and too much stimulation.

While I struggled with the decision to medicate my son, at the end of the day, I think I made the right decision.

If you have a child/children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, how did you handle it? How did you move past the diagnosis stage into the action stage? Although each child is unique, it will help me immensely to hear how others have addressed this issue. Thanks!

Crissie Miller Kirby uses one word to describe herself–survivor. In the last 12 years, she has survived college, marriage, having two children, a miscarriage and the heartache of a divorce. However, what has given her strength is sharing her experiences and connecting with women on life lessons learned. You can read more of Crissie’s work, along with nine other talented South Carolina women, at Lexington Medical Center’s Every Woman blog.

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