Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That Little Acronym

One has been visiting with a therapist for a few weeks now, mainly about his occasional inability to control his reaction when angry or hurt. There have been a few typical-boy incidents at school and the teachers suggested he spend some time with a therapist - and we readily agreed. In fact, two years ago he spent some time with the same therapist working on some basic anger management skills and it helped a lot. So we're back and we're pleased so far.

But today, today - the therapist said those magic letters to mom. Yup. A ... D ... H ... D. I flew at least a foot in the air in surprise. And then he followed up with that magical word ... medication. Once again launching mom into space for a brief moment.

Okay, what he really said was that, on the subject of impulse control, One was somewhere between normal and a diagnosis of ADHD. The doctor couldn't say how close he was to either end of that spectrum until he worked with One some more and we saw (or didn't see) some behavior modification. He then said if there wasn't modification then medication could likely help. So no, he didn't announce off the bat that my kid needed drugs, and therefore I did not slap him and stomp out of his office. Sorry to deprive you of a good story.

Seriously though, I was so completely floored with the idea that my almost-always-under-control eight year old boy might (in someone's opinion) need drugs. He's eight. He acts like an eight year old boy. He reads for hours on end. He always finishes his school work in time to go outside for recess. He never forgets to brush his teeth, take his vitamins, pick up his room at bedtime - he just doesn't. And yes, he gets maaaaaad sometimes. And he kicks mulch and stamps on a foot now and again. Once he even lost control of himself so completely he stuck a friend in the tummy with a ruler. Not maliciously, just a little bit over the edge in some complicated sword-fighting game (in class when he'd been told to put the ruler away, okay?) This is borderline ADHD? This is possible medication territory? This is non-remediable behavior?

Did I mention that he's eight years old? E-I-G-H-T. Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight. As in: he learned to walk somewhere right around the Bush inaguration. 8.

I am proud to say that I have not melted down over this one. I called a wonderful neighbor when we got home, a psychologist who decided that home schooling her delightful boys was more interesting than therapy, and who is a great resource on all things psychological and educational. We had a wonderful 45 minute visit (bless you Mary Ann!) and worked out some strategies that Husband and I can work on some more and perhaps take to One's therapist and the school as well. The goal is, of course, to help One meet this challenge and overcome it, and for him to grow older and wiser in the process. So instead of the shock and awe I felt coming out of the therapist's office, I now feel peaceful, positive and dedicated to helping my child work this out.


Elizabeth Channel said...

Awesome perspective, and such a blessing to have that sweet neighbor.

I'm no expert, but he just sounds eight to me.

I have an eight-year-old boy.

And he sounds very similar to yours. And we did get tested six ways to Sunday for ADHD and he does not fit the bill.

So there to that teacher!

Sara said...

I have a 4 year old boy. He sounds oddly like what you have described: easily entertained by books, enjoys playing on his own in his imaginary world, but he is one, mean, ornery spirited kid when he gets angry. If that's the definition of borderline ADHD, I suspect we'll have problems in school, too. We're already working on his anger management issues; I guess it's comforting to know that perhaps they will continue and our techniques will just have to change along with him. I find comfort in knowing God created my son, quirks and all, and God will help my husband and me make him into a good, decent man who can control his temper (someday, right God?).

Tari said...

Sara, definitely continue to work on it - you're already so far ahead just knowing that anger is his big challenge. I would watch school as well - if you can choose, choose carefully. We've found that lots of schools are barely tolerant of boys (and completely intolerant of spirited boys). They have very small boxes, as it were. If you can find one that is helpful and understanding towards boys, stick like glue!

Tari said...


I think, too, if we had him truly tested he would be far closer to "normal" (whatever that is) on the therapist's scale. The only thing that throws off his concentration and control level are his emotions, and we all have that to some degree. He needs to learn to control his reactions; he doesn't need medication to make his emotions disappear. I want to raise and emotionally mature man, not an emotionless one.

Good grief, I cried whenever anyone yelled at me until I was 30! I finally gained control over that "emotional outburst" but I was obviously otherwise a functioning adult for quite some time beforehand.