A Diagnosis and a Sense of Relief

FullSizeRender-12Harry Potter was diagnosed with ADHD today.

There’s a part of me that thinks I should be sad about this diagnosis, but I’m not sad.

In fact… I’m thrilled.

We’ve spent the last 4 years wondering why Harry Potter won’t sit down, follow instructions, and cannot control his impulses.

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve sat there brainstorming ways to fix the situation.

Have you ever been in a situation where you just can’t win?

Where it feels like the walls are closing in on you and no matter what you do the space gets smaller and smaller?

That is what these last few years have been like.

I’ve felt like a parenting failure on a daily (ok hourly) basis.

Nothing I do or say improves the situation.

No sticker chart, reward system, or punishment has changed anything.

No gentle reminders, time outs, or threats have made the slightest difference.

No yelling, bargaining, or bribing has done anything except make me more frustrated.

I’ve prayed for patience, read scholarly articles, talked to other moms, and still… he won’t listen.

We’ve watched as AsthmaMan has learned to follow multi-step instructions (when he is willing to participate) while Harry Potter continues to struggle with even the most basic one step instructions.

Harry Potter is a sweet and bright kid, but you can just feel the tension coming off of him as he forgets another thing, can’t find something, and is reminded to do something yet again. Watching him get more frustrated every day, and knowing that we can’t help him is heartbreaking.

A couple of months ago someone mentioned in passing that I may want to consider filling out a Vanderbilt ADHD assessment for Harry Potter.

I didn’t think much of it, but when I finally looked it up something clicked.

Harry Potter wasn’t willfully disobedient (that’s AsthmaMan) he had ADHD.

The first ten assessment questions read:

  1. Does not pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes with, for example, homework
  2. Has difficulty keeping attention to what needs to be done
  3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  4. Does not follow through when given directions and fails to finish activities (not due to refusal or failure to understand)
  5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. Avoids, dislikes, or does not want to start tasks that require ongoing mental effort
  7. Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (toys, assignments, pencils, or books)
  8. Is easily distracted by noises or other stimuli
  9. Is forgetful in daily activities
  10. Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

The questions are ranked never, occasionally, often, and very often.

If you’ve spent more than a half hour with Harry Potter, you know he’s “very often” straight down the line.

After reading the assessment, I knew we had to move forward, all of a sudden there was light at the end of a long and dark tunnel.

I asked his teacher to complete an assessment and her initial response was that he was great… her response was not what I’d expected and not what I’d observed. I was update and frustrated, and thought maybe it was just me. But two weeks later she included the following in an email: “He definitely has trouble paying attention in class and staying on task.”

All of a sudden we were all admitting that there was something wrong and that we needed outside help.

And “something wrong” was something we could work with. “Something wrong” was a specific thing, something with tested treatments.

His out of control behavior may be partially due to poor parenting, but there’s more to it.  All of a sudden there was a reason, beyond my incompetence that he would walk into traffic, forget half the stuff he needed, and lived in a general state of disarray.

There was a reason that our life was a very hectic version of 50 First Dates (awful movie), where we started from square one every single day.

When the doctor walked in and said, “I’m fairly certain that your child has ADHD.” I wanted to hug her.

She attempted to comfort me, letting me know that many successful people have ADHD and that there are things we could do to help him… but I didn’t need it.

I was just so relieved.

I know that we have a long journey ahead of us, but I am thrilled that we have a path to follow.

I’m beyond thrilled that we have a plan, and a team in place to help him.

So here’s to answered prayers, hope, and a brand new journey.

Oh… and the beginning of MANY posts on life with an ADHD child.

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