Caz
The other day I was surfing around some of the blogs I follow and came across  some articles on The Innovative Educator  that really resonated with me about medication for ADHD children.  Just about anyone that has been reading my little blog (which granted, is not many people lol) knows that my little dude Frodo has been diagnosed with ADHD and SPD (sensory processing disorder).  He was in public school last year and he was really struggling in the classroom (and with bullies) due to his behaviour, and we were really struggling as well, to help him learn new ways of coping with this new environment.   Frodo was suspended twice in the 8odd months he was in school.. both times for things that were obvious reactions to the nastiness that schoolmates had inflicted on him.. but the school didn't care about that.   It was all about HIS behaviour and what we could do to 'help' him.

The first suspension was due to throwing a book... Frodo was eager to get to use the computer and the teacher told him to put away his materials first,  Frodo didn't want to because he knew he would miss out on one of the few computers in the class... he got a bit upset and the teacher told him to 'stop acting like a baby'.  Of course, the other students had a good old laugh at this and Frodo reacted accordingly by tossing his book down and mumbling shut up at the teacher (with friggin good reason in my opinion!)   

We got in to see the Paediatrician in June, and Frodo was officially diagnosed.  We had to come back for a testing appointment and  at that point agreed to try medication as an interim intervention to help him  maintain his behaviour while the school Guidance Officer worked her magic with behaviour plans and such.  The medication wasn't all bad, it did help... but what we found was that once the school was aware that he was medicated, their interest in working with him disappeared.  The magic pill was involved, no need for actual effort on their parts.  Frodo got no more help with learning to cope with the environment, his case was closed and the school gave up on him.. in my opinion anyway. 

Fast forward a few months and HIS behaviour has improved a lot... but he is bullied daily by other students, excluded and ridiculed often.  He hates school and never wants to go.. but doesn't say anything really because he  figures this is just how it is now.  He has more bad reactions to bullies and scores another suspension and finally, at the beginning of the last term is threatened with another.   He is a big ball of stress, the medications are affecting his sleep now (one night he was literally up until 3am) and his appetite is dwindling to nothing.  

Sadly, it took until that last suspension threat for me to realize that the school really did see the pills as the end of the discussion.  I withdrew Frodo and withdrew the tablets as well.  I realize that some children truly do need medication, ADHD can be just like any other medical condition... and if someone has  cancer or high blood pressure you don't with hold medication for it, right?   BUT, if your child has coeliac you don't just medicate it right off the bat either... and I think that's really the line that needs to be taken with children with ADHD and related disorders.  Other methods of helping them control their behaviours need to be tried FIRST... before resorting to medications that may have long lasting effects on our children.  Schools should NOT be pressuring parents into considering medication by implying that your child will fail and not learn (even during his worst phase at school, Frodo's grades were on par with the average students) 

Since Frodo has come back to home based learning, we have tailored his learning day and his environment so that he feels confident that he can get through each period without issue.  And he does, almost without fail.  It is amazing how much better his ability to focus is without 34 other students yammering on all over the place.  I lay out what we are going to accomplish for the week and he chooses the order in which we will do it... so if he's fidgety, he will choose to do something more hands on like some of his History Odyssey activities.... if he's overly hyper we'll go out for a walk and burn off some energy (and usually turn it into a science outing ;) Lots of cool learning opportunities on a walk) and come back to more table based activities later when he's calmer.   Obviously, schools can't cater to each student quite that much... but these things helped Frodo far more than 20mg of Ritalin a day did.   
2 Responses
  1. pasmit Says:

    Congrat's on making it through this far. These issues can be totally devastating to family relationships.
    Only we can be a true advocate for our children! I learnt that the hard way too.
    Too Infinity and Beyond....


  2. solsticemom Says:

    I'm so glad he's doing well with home schooling!