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Monday, February 7, 2011

Coping with ADHD

Sometimes there is nothing more difficult than being a single mother of a son with ADHD.  As a teacher, I know that ADHD is grossly misdiagnosed.  As a mother, I recognize that my son has a medical condition that is often misunderstood.  I had no idea the long journey involved in diagnosing and treating my son's ADHD.

Jimmy was evaluated for ADHD in kindergarten when he repeatedly got up and wandered around the room, had trouble calming down, did not transition well (if at all) and was coming home day after day upset and broken because he did not have a "green" day at school.  The evaluation came back borderline/inconclusive.  He was still a little young to be correctly diagnosed and the line between typical 5 year old behavior and ADHD was very small.  He had rough patches in first grade, but it was easier than kindergarten, so I was naively optimistic.  Then came second grade.  What was typical behavior for a 5 year old was not typical behavior for a 7 year old.  He was wandering around the classroom, not writing down his assignments, and could not focus on anything!  We went back to his pediatrician and had him re-evaluated.  It was blatantly obvious that this time he did, in fact, have ADHD.  This is when our journey really began.

I really, really did not want to medicate my son.  The turning point is when he was not only diagnosed with ADHD, but a high degree of anxiety and depression as well.  Being as I have been battling anxiety and depression for 15 years myself, I wouldn't wish that on any child! Our pediatrician suggested that we medicate him to break the cycle.  If we took care of the ADHD then the anxiety and depression could resolve themselves.  This seemed reasonable so I decided to try it.  I also borrowed a lot of books on ADHD and with my pediatrician's help, found and implemented a behavior modification plan. I have also looked into counseling, but so far that hasn't worked! 

We started medicating Jimmy with Vyvanse.  It was traditional ADHD medication; newer on the market.  It had a lot of great reviews and my pediatrician had many helpful things to say about it.  It worked immediately.  It was like having a totally different child..one who was more focused and happier because of it.  I had tears in my eyes the first time he built with Legos! He was never able to before the medication. He would eat the Legos, throw the Legos, hide the Legos, but was not able to concentrate enough to build anything.  He was so proud of his first Lego creation! He said to me, "Look at what I did!  I built this all by myself!  I didn't know I could do that, Mom!"  Now he is my little Lego maniac!  The Vyvanse did have its bad points, though.  First, it made him zombie out.  For about an hour in the morning, he would just sit and stare.  It really freaked me out.  Second, it made him very emotional.  He was like a lady who was 9 months pregnant watching a Hallmark commercial. He would cry at everything.  After a few months, we decided that Vyvanse was not for him and the doctor moved him to Concerta.  Jimmy was only on Concerta for a week.  It gave him severe migraines so we switched it immediately.  The doctor then prescribed him Metadate.  It was one of the "tried and true" ADHD meds.  He was on this medication the longest...probably for about 8 months.  It was working great, but he started getting migraines again when he would miss a dose.  The whole thing with ADHD meds is that they do not stay in the body.  You don't have to build them up in your system.  You can choose when to medicate your child.  There is supposed to be no adverse effects if you wanted to medicate your child on Friday but not on Saturday.  The Metadate was staying in his system too long and he was going through withdrawal if he missed a dose.  Both the pediatrician and I decided that this was not what was best for him and once again changed his meds.  We put him on Adderall, which he has been on for around 6 months. We have had very few side effects with this medication!  He is not emotional, does not get migraines and does not zombie out!  It seemed the perfect fit until recently.

My son is one of those kids whose ADHD presents symptoms such as extreme hyperactivity, inability to focus and major impulse issues.  When he is medicated, most of these symptoms are greatly reduced.  Lately, however, he has been having an increase in these symptoms.  For example, my son knows it is wrong to take things to school.  It is a school rule and one of our house rules.  Leave the contraband at home!  He has been sneaking things to school, knowing full that it is wrong and that he will get in trouble for it, but he really can't help it.  This is hard for me to understand.  If you know it is wrong then don't do it!  This doesn't connect in his brain and it frustrates me to no end!  He is also not writing his homework down, not keeping his school things organized, etc.  I think it may be time for another med check so I made an appointment for Wednesday.  I hope it all goes well for my son's sake!


  1. My son is 8 and has ADHD kindergarden and 1st where so so with him as well he is in 2nd now, he has an Oct. birthday. He has been on Adderall it was his first med. It made made him mean. He has tried 2 other pills that did not work. he was on a patch that worked great but it was leaving sores on his skin. He is now on concerta but like your son depression and other issures are still there. He is on a very high dose of concerta. Good luck. my sons school has been so helpful don't be scared to ask for help it is hard at first you may feel like you fail him. you didn't it's ok to ask for help if it Helps him.

  2. I feel for both of you to have to endure this but I am learning thru you so thanks so much for this post! I see some of those symptoms in my 3 soon to be 4yr old and will hold out hope that they don't worsen. But if they do I'll know just who to call for advice if he gets formally diagnosed! So proud of the Mommy you are, always looking for the best solutions! Do keep us updated!