Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sick or Treat

OK...These aren't really illnesses we struggled with and addressed in the past months, but Learning Issues or Treat, or Joint Pain or Treat didn't sound as catchy, especially for this time of year!

Throughout his young years, Prince Go-for-It often had issues seeing things through to completion, or sitting and concentrating on bookwork.  I would have bet that if he'd been in public school, he'd have been given the ADD label years ago.  

The advantage of homeschooling, though, is that I could adapt his education to his own learning style.  He caught snakes and frogs and studied them.  He fished...then filleted and smoked the fish.  He tied flies for different locations and purposes.  He built Lego communities with his siblings.  

He played outside, building and socializing with neighbors.  He was up for anything, and never met a person he didn't like.  He could talk to young and old alike.  It was awesome, and I saw no reason to interfere with his God-given bent.  

Another homeschooling mom I met years ago referred to her boys with ADHD/hyperactive tendencies as being "Tiggers." She enjoyed and celebrated their activity, and employed active and hands-on learning in their homeschooling lives.

I believe it's only when we ask of them what doesn't fit, that brains with Attention Deficit Disorder really run into trouble and need outside help.  It's been in the past few years, when Prince Go-for-It felt the need to integrate into full-time schooling at the local junior and senior high schools, that he felt he was unable to keep up some kind of assistance.  He felt badly about himself, and was hard on himself about his struggles.  Last spring he requested that we have him evaluated for ADD, and consider medication.  The thought of medication that affects the way his brain works really scared me, but I promised to keep an open mind and see what the prince's doctor had to say.

We were given a packet at the pediatrician's office, full of questionnaires for the prince, us, as the parents, and for a few of his teachers.  I chose a junior high teacher who thought the prince was an amazing kid...A person who had taken the time to get to know him, saw his potential, and loved who he was.  I also chose a couple of current teachers who had commented to us that although the prince was really trying hard, and a delight to have in class, they could see his grades, especially test grades, didn't reflect his effort. -- Also, that he had trouble in class with attention, and seeing things through to completion.  

At home we could tell who had been in the kitchen when drawers were left open, clutter or mess was on 2 or 3 different counter areas, a snack sat half-completed on the counter, and maybe even the refrigerator door stood open.  He would start a chore, get distracted, and walk away, leaving it at about 70%, but, asked about it later, was sure he'd finished.

The doctor admitted that Go-for-It was a bit of a mixed bag when it came to symptoms.  All of his teachers listed his behavior as excellent, and said that he was a good example in his classrooms, which is not typical of the form responses the doctor sees for ADD kids.  The prince also had As and Bs mixed in with lower grades, which is also not typical.  

He's social, shows some leadership skills,  and maintains good friendships.  When it came to sports, his dedication and attention seemed complete.  From reports of behavior at home and at school, though, he could see a clear indication of attention and focus problems, so recommended trying a medication, in increasing doses over a few weeks, to see if it might help.

In the 2nd or 3rd week, the prince mentioned trouble falling asleep, but no problem staying asleep.  He mentions that sometimes his medicine makes him feel quickly angry over things, but it doesn't show to the rest of us, so I wouldn't say there's been a turn in his moods or personality.  Those have been the worst of the side effects.  

The good side effects are increased focus and understanding of what he's doing and reading at school, and his happiness about that.  He gets upset when his grades fall below an A, because they are all hovering right up there and he's trying so hard to keep them up.  We try to convince him to not be so worried about the actual grades, because he tends to check them like a person who wants to lose weight checks the scale twice a day.  He still has test anxiety, but his better successes in taking them, I hope, might start to remedy that.  He's doing great at work, and is valued as a dependable, hard worker with an eye for details.

Go-for-It has recently made a schedule, thanks to a classroom assignment, of his short-term and long-term tasks he needs to accomplish in order to reach his goal of completing a college degree in business.  This has shown him that he has too much on his plate these days, and that baseball, which takes so much of his time as a year-around, select sport, has to go.  It was a tough decision, but a mature one, I thought.  Running suits his schedule and his personality better... It serves as an aid to relaxation and thought, instead of adding more stress, like trying to perfect baseball techniques did.  He hopes to run at college, too.  

We're proud of the progress he's been making, and so happy he's feeling much better about himself and the hopes for his future.

Well, this post is long enough, so I'll leave Part 2, which has to do with a struggle I've had, until tomorrow.

Recently, I saw a good article explaining the struggles a person with ADD faces, written so that others might better understand:  20 Things to Remember if You Love a Person with ADD

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