Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is it ADHD?

The short answer: I don't know yet. The horrible answer: I hope so. Yikes, I know that sounds really bad, but I'm to the point where that is what I'm thinking -- good or bad. Let me explain.

If you know our family, and the boys, you know that Matthew has always been my "strong-willed" child, while I'd label Nathan as the compliant one. Last year, Matthew did have behavioral struggles in 1st grade, but I thought things had gotten better and that the summer "off" would help. WRONG! He has been struggling mightily in 2nd grade. Not academically -- he's actually reading and doing math at a higher grade level. He struggles with staying focused, lately has had days where he flat out refuses to do the work, and has poor anger management issues. It saddens me greatly, because he is so smart, and he could do anything if he just tries. In December, he started landing in the principal's office regularly, and started seeing the school counselor twice a week. She and I finally decided that I should take him to see a therapist.

So, right before Christmas, we saw a Thedacare child therapist. It did not take long for him to utter those four little letters -- ADHD. We were sent home with evaluation forms for me, Mark, and the teacher to fill out, and I scheduled a return visit. I mailed the completed forms on January 2, and showed up at Matthew's appointment yesterday expecting to discuss the results. Well, he said he had not received the forms yet, so there were no results to discuss. He did ask some more questions and observe Matthew while we talked, and he really seemed to think that the test will end up pointing to ADHD. So he recommended the Conner test, which would be one-on-one for Matthew with a child psychologist, but requires pre-certification from the insurance company. He sent us home yesterday with some information on ADHD, and promised that he'd put a rush on the evaluation forms when they showed up.

We got home, I checked the mailbox, and there was the envelope I had sent with the forms in them -- marked "refused" of all things!! What?!?!?! I personally drove them back to the office this morning, and asked the receptionist to get them to him right away. Now I sit here and wait for his phone call.

No mother wants to hear an ADHD diagnosis for her child. Or anything with the word "disorder" in it. But the more I read, the more I think "that's Matthew!" And, there is definitely a genetic component, and I know that one of my cousins and my nephew both have it, and those are only the ones I know about. So it does make me feel a little better knowing that, at least if he does have it, there are ways to treat it, and it explains what's been going on. When you have a child with these issues, you really begin to doubt your parenting skills, so it would almost be a relief to just get the diagnosis and move on with a treatment plan. Because that is what we will do -- move on and get him the help he needs.

Yes, yes, yes, I know that ADHD can be a terribly over-diagnosed condition. But I really do feel I'm being careful, and knowing that there will be further testing to confirm the diagnosis (if there is one) makes me feel better about it. It does not help that when you google "ADHD Conner" to try to get more information on the test, the first website it finds talks about how there is NO test to diagnose ADHD, Conner was a quack, and ADHD doesn't really exist. It's obviously an "anti-ADHD" site rather than one that might be helpful to parents trying to find good resources to get helpful information. So I'll keep digging -- the truth is out there somewhere.

So for now, I sit and wait. And wonder. What if he is? What if he isn't? Either way, we are getting him the help he needs. I just want to know what I'm dealing with.

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