Thursday, August 30, 2007

THE "ELEPHANT" REVEALED.......

Mike and the boys came home this evening, They had a wonderful time. They didn't even use the canoe, though. They found something better......kayaks. They had them for rent at the lake. Mike rented a double for him and Harrison, and Caleb got his own. He had never done it before and found it to be lots of fun. He said it goes way faster than the canoe. (Imagine that, he is only 65 pounds). On the lake they saw loons come up from under the water right in front of them. And the highlight for Caleb.....they saw three Osprey. They even saw them dive and catch fish. (Think nature movie...only live). This was especially great for Caleb because he has been studying birds of prey the last few months and knew every habit, physical characteristic, flight pattern and sound of the Osprey. He knows his facts, it's amazing. Their campsite was lovely, too. Complete with a wonderful band who call themselves....um I can't remember, something about the Appelacian Trail. Some of the members were young kids and they were inspiring to Caleb. They went on a beautiful hike, too. All around they had a great time.

As for the "elephant".......nothing too grave, except maybe to my sons psychological health. You see, it got to the point where he was in trouble more than he was out. We were experiencing (what we found) incurable behavior. I started to understand, a little bit, the frustration that my Dad had with my brother (and maybe me, too). Caleb was constantly pushing limits, testing boundaries, bossing the younger kids, procrastinating like crazy, trying to avoid anything that required physical or mental effort. I could go on, but you get the idea. We found ourselves merely tolerating him, and that is no way to live and a terrible way to be raised. " What is this doing to his self confidence?" we thought. It must feel so bad to always feel like you are in trouble. He wasn't changing his behavior, no matter the consequences imposed. We would set time limits, to no avail. We tried everything. And I don't mean just the mean stuff, like harsher consequences (I saw that totally backfire with my brother.) We tried literally everything. He deserves to be embraced, respected, loved, cherished and valued. He desreves to have a happy life, one where he learns from mistakes and moves forward. HE deserves to have positive interactions with his parents. But it was like the (bad) behavior was always at the forefront and we could only occasionally see past it. For a long time I carried the guilt. Thinking this behavior is a reflection of me and the way I parent him. I can't tell you how many times I resolved to be more positive, more loving, more patient, more open minded, more objective........( it must be me.....it must be me.....it must be me...I need to do something different.) Then admitting defeat, I found myself saying "Well, I'll do my best and hope he turns out ok." Now, mind you, I hate the term used by my Mother..."I did the best I knew how." and I pride myself in doing BETTER than I know how. But this kid had me stumped. "Do I not have what it takes?" I thought. Maybe not. WHAT THE HE**??? He is only NINE (at the time) and I still have alot of raising to do. I can't give up on him now. What am I saying?? It finally occured to me that maybe HE isn't actually choosing his behavior. Maybe there is a deeper problem. (What I call the "ELEPHANT"). Maybe I should discuss this with the doctor. (Now you are thinking...DUH!! I know, I already fell so bad about waiting so long.) Boy has this been an amazing and exhausting journey. But now we are here and our elephant is gone. They call it ADHD. I hate even typing those letters. I have never told anyone, I hate the stigma that is attached to this disorder. I didn't believe in this before he was diagnosed. I thought that Ridalin was just a drug they gave kids to make them fit into a mold in the public school. I know that I can accomidate Caleb's non traditional learning style. It's not about that. That is not why we sought help. It was all of the other things I mentioned above. Caleb is on a medication (not Ridalin, he is on a non-stimulant) and has made a complete turn around. It has literally changed our home life for the better. His behavior was affecting the whole family, I am not exagerating!!! I can't even remember the last time he was in time out or lost a privelage. Love to and from Caleb flows more freely now. His true self shines brightly and I am so grateful to the Lord for helping us to get past our ego's and our "we can handle this" attitude.
I share this story in hopes that it will help somebody else. Please don't judge us to be bad parents. The medication is NOT a substitute for good parenting. (A myth I use to believe, so judgemental was I) And Caleb knows that good behavior is not found in a pill. We have explained it to him in a way that still makes him accountable for his behavior.
It really doesn't matter, anyway. Nobody really understands this until they experience it. We know (the proof is in the pudding) that this was the right decision for our son.
KKS

10 comments:

Stephanie said...

I'm sure this was a very difficult decision for you. DId you take him to a specialist? I know that adhd is truly a pretty hard thing to diagnose, and should be done by someone very qualified.

Do you see it as temporary, to be on the medication? Is it something the doctor expects him to outgrow?
I often think of the adhd runaway train, too, and think "kim and stephen would have been on ritalin when we were kids." HOnestly, makes me glad that we grew up in the seventies.

I'm not judging you (or Caleb), I just love you.
So... what do you figure the cause is? A mild chemical imbalance? am major one? Does he have a need for space and lots of quiet time?
Are there any alternatives that would help? A healthier diet -such as whole grains, more special foods/particular vitamins?

I am sure to you a chemical (pill)solution is no different than herbs, or other alternatives. But for some reason to me it is.
I think I get afraid of the adhd drugs (though honestly I don't know much about them) because I know many special people would have been .... drugged... for lack of a more gentle word.... during their childhood and would not have become the outstanding citizens they are today had things been different. BUt maybe that's not even true, as people will fulfill their Truth regardless of such things, I guess.
I don't know.
I'm not second guessing your decision - well, maybe I am - not sure what second-guessing means- I am just trying to work this through.
I'm not trying to be critical, and I hope I do not seem so. THis is just a very big thing, and for things like this I tend to think "treat the cause, not the symptoms".
I don't pretend to know the best for Caleb and your family, but I do know that there are many spirited chldren that would be diagnosed with add/adhd.

I do suppose that you have been trying to figure this out for ten years, and maybe you just came to a place of "he is unreachable". I can understand that if you tried for so long and intensely to help him understand his feelings, and let him vent as he needed. Maybe he couldn't tell you of what he was feeling.
I don't know. I just think of Trev being that way, and I would think "Just talk to him! Let him vent as he needs! Take the time to get to know -really understand- why he feels the way he does, and then change it."

This is scattered, and all over the place. sorry about that. Just working through it, as I said.
(maybe I should blame it on being close to 3am when I started this post - not up late, but early.)

Love you.
Let's hope the children survived Grammy's last night! :)

whimsigal said...

I hope you don't mind that I stalked you from Stephanie's blog but your comment over there was so suggestive that I had to follow and find out what you didn't want to mention about Caleb. Boy, am I glad I did. My youngest is very much like you describe your Caleb and I have been afraid to give "it" a name, like Voldemort almost. Just out of fear on my part really. I need to talk to his doctor, I know but I was afraid they would put him on Ritalin as I was unaware there were any alternatives to that. Also, there can be a lot of vilification of parents who "label" their children so we don't talk about it for fear of being persecuted by others who probably don't really understand what we're going through.

I'm so, so glad I read this post. It has given me the little push I needed to do something about the elephant in our room.

Evie

Kim said...

Steph,
Yes. We took him to a behavioral clinic where he spent an entire day meeting with different doctors and specialists. They were incredible and we learned a lot from them. At first, we were only seeking new tools, advice on a diet, maybe some parenting classes. We were totally against medicating him.
The arrangement we made with the doctor is that we will have him on the med for six months. We feel that is ample tme to establish some new habits and behaviors. We have some goals in mind and are working towards them and are making great progress.
I don't know what the cause is.....we looked for so long. Maybe the medicine is a cop out,but we dug as deep as we could, did everything possible to no avail.
Actually, I did consider a homeopathac midicine called "Attend." Cindy (our cousin) recommended it to me because her son is on it. Caleb was
taking it for a while but it didn't help him.
So far, I don't feel like this medicine is hindering him in any way. It hasn't changed his personality or caused him to be "weird." Infact, like I stated in the post, we feel that his true personality shines more brightly now. When before we would only get an occasional glimpse.
The medication that he is taking is called "Stratera" and it is a non stimulant which meansthat it is not Speed like Ridalin and the others in that class. Also, it is not a controled substance and not adictive. This accomidayes our goal of stopping the med in six months without symptoms of withdrawl.
All in all, we feel like this decision is enabling him to succeed and taking away his impedements. (Is that a word in English?) Well, in French it means "roadblocks."
KKS

Kim said...

Evie,
Don't worry, I've stalked your blog, too. I am glad you came over to Chez Nous, you are welcome anytime. This post I wrote in hopes of reaching someone like you. Thanks for your comment.
There are a few alternatives to Ridalin. But please be aware that "Concerta" and 'Adderal" and "Ridalin" are one in the same-----all speed. Do your research before you agree to a med for your son if you choose that route. As I mentioned in my comment to Steph, there is a homeopathic called "Attend." I think it is manufactured by a company called Axis, but not positive. Just do a google for "Attend ADHD" and you will find it. The side affects of this drug are increased appetite and sleepiness. Also, the pills are huge and smell bad. We would put it in his OJ in a cup (they come in capsules) with a lid because if he smelled it he would gag.
Feel free to email if you would like to correspond privately at:
kimksmith at mac dot com.
I am glad to have helped you.
KKS

Stephanie said...

I've been worried about this all day (while among chaotic and extremely happy children! :) )
I pray that I did not seem accusing, and if I did, please forgive me. I have absolutely no experience with anything like this... I only know that as I said, I believe in treating causes.(I'm much too analytical for my own good, no doubt.)
Please understand that I love you very much, and only wanted to be assured that you were proceding with with eyes open. Of course you are.
It makes me want to cry in relief that you had him in a real clinic, and that the doctor wants to go for six months. It tells me that he has what is best for Caleb on his mind, and is not just sending out a perscription to fix something. Of course I know that you would not practice any such thing... but I like to get really clear about hings in my head.
I was just worried.
Please know that I know that you are a wonderful Mama, and I have never doubted it in my life for even half a second.
You have always been one of the World's Greatest, and I mean that sincerely.
Please forgive me if I hurt your feelings, let you down, or if you felt that I betrayed you.
Loves to you, kimk,
sls

Kim said...

Steph,
No offense taken. Your questions helped me to realize that I left many parts of the journey out of the post. I know you were asking because you care, not because you were being judgemental.
Rest assured that we exhausted every avenue out there short of placing him for adoption. I am kidding about that but there were many times when I thought...."What am I going to do with this child?"
Again, maybe some (not you) will view our decision to medicate as a cop out. But after weighing the pro's and cons we decided that his happy childhood and self confidence was most important. We hanndled the behavior for years, and could probably do so for the next 10 years....but to what end? We had to let go of our own fears, ego, stereotypes, judgements and bull headedness. This is not about us and our parenting skills (or lack of them). This is about Caleb and we decided to medicate for HIM!
Like I said before....it's been quite a journey and we are pleased at where we are now.
KKS

Kim said...

Evie,
I hope you don't mind me responding to your email here. My husband had to reformat (resurect) my dead computer and it is not quite back to normal yet (Outlook still needs to be installed).
I just wanted to let you know that October is right around the corner....don't you wanna come back?
Fall is my favorite season and makes the cold winters worth it.
Yes. We started the whole process by talking to our pediatrician a couple years ago when she said..."If yoy would like I can refer you to a behavioral clinic in.... (a town about an hour away).
I said "No thank you. I don't believe in ADHD. And I know that is what they will say." (I had done research and thought I was the specialist).
Then ten months ago I had to eat some humble pie and go back to her again. I said..."I am desperate....please help!"
And here we are.
No, I didn't read about your son....but I will soon and email you back, ok?
KKS

Lena said...

Kim, I followed a link from your husband's blog that I found while searching for "Mormon homeschool blogs." I'm so glad I did! My son sounds just like your Caleb did. He is always so down on himself and in trouble. I HATE that he is always in trouble. It really just breaks my heart but you can't just let them do whatever right? I have wanted to have him evaluated for depression or something. I know something isn't right. The Dr just said let's wait another year. Well, he'll be 7 next month and I am going to get him evaluated. I keep thinking there must be some way of parenting him that we aren't getting, maybe we aren't positive enough, who knows. I think we've tried everything though. I'm so glad to hear that Caleb is doing better on the medication and if that's what it takes to make him happy, it is so worth it right? I don't know you, but I may have questions for you in the future!

Kim said...

Lena,
I am so glad you found my blog. I was so afraid of "coming out" with the diagnosis just because of all of the supposed shame or "vilification" (as Evie refers to it) comes with it. Knowing thay I have reached people like you, makes me realize what a good choice this was.
I would be glad to answer any questions.
Thanks for your comment.
KKS

childsplay said...

Hi Kim! I've followed the 'blog train' and found this post. :)

My daughter was 8 when we went through a similar thing. She's 11 now. Her ADHD is a little different, and mostly 'inattentive' rather than 'hyperactive', but I recognize the journey and applaud you for acknowleging the 'elephant' in the room.

There is a wonderful author, Jonathan Mooney, that has a great book called 'learning outside the lines'. I found it to be a wonderfully validating and informative book, while at the same time acknowleging the stigma and pain kids who are labeled go through in society.

You're already giving your son a great foundation of open, encouraging, nonjudgmental support...good for you!