Friday, October 21, 2011

Blogus Interrupticus

Wow...the last two weeks since I posted just kinda flew by, right? And there was gonna be jewelry, too. Really, I swear there was.

But then, life happened.

And then sickness happened.

And I learned that life + sickness cancels out jewelry and writing and pretty much anything creative.

I'll just mention now that this may end up being a long-ish and possibly emotional post, so if you're not down with that...well, you were warned.

If you've been reading the blog a while, you know I've been dealing with teacher issues at my son's school since last year as well as facing ADD testing/diagnosis for him.

On the up side, after last year's total debacle, we seem to have a phenomenal teacher this year. She's creative, organized and engaged. She has been patient with me e-mailing her (probably a little too much) and, amazingly enough, she E-MAILS ME BACK!

The down side is that I had Ryan tested last Spring and the results came back showing positive correlation for the inattentive type of ADD. I'll be honest and say I've struggled with that knowledge ever since. It's not that I don't believe in the diagnosis, it's that I find it so difficult to accept that my sweet, wonderful, bright boy is going to have to struggle with this issue all the way through school and beyond.

And yeah, I'm also struggling with other people's reactions to hearing about it. If I have one more person tell me it's my fault for letting him watch too much TV, I may not be responsible for my actions.

Once I got over the news about it, the question became "okay, what do we do now?" I met with the principal at his school at the end of the year last year and got the school to agree that Ryan qualifies for what's called "504 status" which means he gets some special accommodations like getting to sit up front, getting extra time for homework, etc. I also laid down the law about how I expected a better teacher assignment for him this year.

Given that his grades and test scores are all okay (basically B's and scoring at or above grade level in almost everything), I wanted to see how he'd do with a better teacher this year in 3rd grade so that's where things left off at the end of last year.

Now we're almost two months into 3rd grade and I'm starting to see the damage that the crappy teacher from last year did. Ryan is struggling with staying on task in the classroom both from the amount of work and the amount of self-organization and self-direction that is required (neither of which did he have to keep up with last year). He continues to do well on his tests, but he is coming home with piles of incomplete classwork each night that we are having to do ON TOP OF the actual homework.

Now, I would like to say that I am super-mom and can manage a full day of work, pick up the kid, cook dinner, get him through all his classwork AND homework, get the kitchen cleaned up, get the toys picked up, get the shower done, and get through the bedtime routine all with a Donna Reid smile on my face.

And some nights, I can.

But most of the time, I arrive home from work already exhausted, wanting to only provide dinner that we picked up in a drive-thru. I am certainly not in the mood to repeat 3rd grade math and grammar exercises with patience and a smile. I used to be able to leave Ryan at the table working on his homework while I relaxed for a few minutes or got dinner started, but he's reached the level where his inattentiveness does not allow him to stay on task without me at his elbow prompting him to keep going. And I am starting to picture myself glued to his side to get ANYTHING done for the entire rest of his school career - obviously, that's just not practical nor is it good for his ongoing growth.

A new wrinkle is developing in that he is starting to get frustrated with the amount of work, how hard it is for him to push all the way through it and, frankly, how sick he is of me preaching at him about "getting it done." I don't blame him - I'm sick of me, too. But this frustration he has is starting to boil over in some attitude and defiance that he NEVER had before. He's ALWAYS been my super-cheerful, sweet kid. His most frequently uttered phrase (until recently) has been "Sure, Mom."

Obviously, what we've been doing up to this point is no longer working. I need help. So, I tried setting up appointments with the ADD specialists that his testing doctor referred us to. Guess what? NONE of them are in my health care network and my current plan has NO out of network option. So, I was just forced to switch to a plan that costs 3X as much for the whole next year so that I can get to some of these doctors.

Did I mention that Ryan's dad pays $0 child support and $0 towards his health care (or activities or anything else for that matter). Did I also mention that due to the economy there've been no (or drastically reduced) bonuses and no raises or promotions at my job for the last 3 years?

So, yeah, that was a painful decision, but obviously, I need to get him seen by the right people even if it means waving bye bye to the last of my savings.

In the meantime, I've been reading as many books and websites on ADD as I can get my hands on and I've learned a couple of things:

1. It's not my fault. It's genetic. And you only have to look at his dad to see where the gene came from. So, I could have let Ryan watch NO TV for the last 8 years and he'd still be this way.

2. The experts are all saying I have to at least try putting him on medication (probably Ritalin)

3. My logic center is persuaded that's the right next course of action, but my emotions (and certain family members) are torturing me over the idea of putting an 8-year-old on a brain-chemical-altering medication.

All that has led up to several weeks of not sleeping, eating crappy food, and multiple crying jags so I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise when I started to come down with a nasty cold in the middle of last week. I'm getting over it now, but still dealing with a nasty cough.

Fun, right?

You feel all uplifted and happy after reading this post, I'm sure. And I do normally try to keep it pretty upbeat around here, but y'know, sometimes the crap just hits the fan and I have to let it out or totally lose my mind (partial mind loss has already occurred, but I'm determined to hold onto the scraps that are left).

Happier times are ahead, I hope. I'm going to move forward with trying the medication with Ryan and hoping that helps both of us along with some counseling (mostly for me so I can learn to deal with the stress better).

That's it for today. I know I'm behind on book reviews and will try to get caught up. Look for one early next week.



SilverNikNats said...

I can completly relate to your situation, and please belive me it will get better.

SueBeads said...

Oh Kelly, I'm so sorry for what is going on. I'm sure you are a great mom. It is incredibly hard to do it all yourself. I have 2 kids and my ex sees them for 48 hours every two weeks. he does pay child support but not insurance anymore because he got laid off, and now he wants to reduce the amount he pays and is taking me to court and I have to pay my attorney to help me. Have you ever taken his dad to court for child support? You need to do that. I wish I could help you out, I'm thinking about you and hoping things look better for you!

Greer said...

My heart goes out to you. I can only guess how hard it is to raise a child solo, and I have no idea what it must be like to deal with ADD.
The thing that shines through is that you have never given up, never wavered, have screwed up your courage and gone on regardless and I admire this immensely. Bravo my dear hold your head up high

Mary Newton Designs said...

We are struggling with similar issues with our 3rd grader as well, so I can definitely empathize with you. I'm glad you realize it's not your fault. I know it will be a struggle, but know that you are not alone. I wish you luck.

Cynthia said...

I do not have any experience with this issue, but I just would like to give you a supportive cyber-hug.
I'm wondering, also, if the school has any counseling available. Certainly Ryan is not the only ADD kid in the school.
You can only do your best, and try to keep him on track.
And maybe hunt down his dad for a little back child support. He really should be helping you, if not physically, then at least, monetarily. Hang in there!!!

Sharyl said...

Don't worry about the book reviews, don't worry about jewelry or blog posts,...unless you find they calm and relax you. Then, by all means, take time for yourself and do them!

ADD and ADHD are painful to have and painful to watch our kids have. It can be very frustrating for the patient and extremely worrisome for the parent. All you need to worry about now is taking care of the two of you. Deep and out.

It sounds to me like you are trying very hard to be a good mom and to do the right thing to provide the best care and the best present and future for your son.

I don't think you can go very wrong when you have those priorities.

Wishing the very best for both of you,


lunedreams said...

If I had kids I'd probably be chock-full of advice for you. So be glad I am childless. Ha ha! I can't imagine anything harder than being a single mom (unless you're Madonna and you have a bazillion dollars). How you ladies work all day and then come home and parent amazes me. (Hard even for married ladies!) I guess you can do anything when you love someone! Schooling is such a mixed bag, much of it (in retrospect) was probably a waste of time. We all come out of grade school/high school/college at different stages of the game, and I imagine most of us would say we learned the most important/useful stuff in "real life." Sure, basic knowledge and skills, as well as effective work habits and critical thinking are vital, but that happens throughout our lives, and the majority of it probably outside of formal schooling. Solid B-grades are something to cheer (with a crappy teacher no less!), your little guy is clearly very intelligent. If his grades slip a little, it's not the end of the world and life is long and he will continue to learn what he needs to know for life. I think your love and support (and advocacy!) is the biggest factor in giving him a safe place to do that. I have no doubt you will figure it out together and he will be just fine. Hang in there Super Mom!

Elisabeth said...

Hey KJ - I could have written this exact post abut 18 months ago. My son went from thrilled to go to school to a disastrous first grade year that I think now, as he starts 4th grade, we are recovering. Our home school is a spanish immersion school, so you can guess how a kid who has a hard time focusing did when half his day was in a language he didn;t know. So moving him to another school was step one. I also was highly reluctant to go the medication route, but I've found that it doesn't change his personality, he's not strung out at all, but his ability to concentrate and get school work done is a zillion times better when he's taken his medicine. Monday we forgot - homework took 3 plus hours. Tuesday...homework done before I got home from work. He's on Concerta, the lowest dose, and it's not cumulative - meaning you can take it or not take it day to day. Weekends and during the summer it was his option, school days it's a definite requirement. It does suppress his appetite (as do all similar meds I think) so we definitely don't push it on non-school days - Michael is a skinny guy and needs all the calories we can get in him. It is near impossible to tune out your family, and I know our solution won't necessarily be what works for you and your son, but it's worth giving medication a shot. Feel free to e-mail me any time if you want to talk some more. Hang in there sister!

Copper Diem said...

I wish i had some helpful advice for you :(

Hang in there, and know I'm sending good thoughts your way.

SummersStudio said...

Oh, Kelly, so much to deal with. No one wants to learn that there child has learning challenges. And there are so many misconceptions about them. I'm glad you recognize that there is not a thing you could do to prevent this. For what it is worth, I have seen children of friends go onto medication and really turn around in their ability to focus in the class room. At the end of the day it's your decision about your son's treatment and you know best what will be right for him.

divaluxe said...

I'm sorry things are so rough for you right now. I've sent up a prayer for you and your son.

EmandaJ said...

Hi Kelly,
So sorry to hear you are having so much trouble. You are a super mom, and don't you forget it. Ryan is the luckiest kid to have you in his corner.

I don't have kids nor do I have ADD, but I do take medication for depression. I know that my meds are necessary because my body doesn't make the chemicals for proper function. It's sort of like a diabetic needing insulin. I have a friend whose teenaged daughter was diagnosed with ADD. She was medicated and has done very well with it. She even said that she was so relieved to be able to focus on task.

Elisabeth seems to have some great advice. We have your back.


Do Be Do Bead Do said...

Oh Kelly, my heart goes out to you. My sons' dad sounds like your son's dad's doppleganger and I know how hard that is, and I didn't/don't have the other issues to deal with. All I know of you I know from this blog, but from that I can tell what a loving, supportive, truly fine mother you are. Keep up the good work and know that there are others, like me, out here who are there for moral support.

Anonymous said...

So sorry you are going thru this, I know it's really hard. Don't worry about blogging right now, just try to get to a better place right now.
Wishing you the best.

Susanm said...

Hi - my 10 year old has ADHD, plus anxiety and mild aspergers. We have been threough the wringer with the school system about him. His self-esteem is very fragile which is hard for a parent to deal with, as we want the best for our children.

Since you have a diagnosis, what about asking the school if homework is necessary for him or could he do less - an increasing mumber of educaters don't think homework really contributes to the education of elementary school children. My son's school has a no homework policy and it makes our homelife much easier.

Medication is a personal decision for every parent with an ADD/ADHD child. In my son's case, he has benefited greatly from meds. But it was not an easy decision.

Having a child with exceptionalities can be very isolating. But I would be surprised if there are not other parents in your son's school or in your community who are facing the same issues. It may just be a matter of asking around. Although it is not specific to ADD/ADHD, is a website with lots of information for parents.

Finally, don't ever doubt that you are doing the best that you can do for your child. It may not seem like it sometimes but you are his best advocate. You know what he needs better than anyone else. It sounds like you are already doing a great deal to help your son. It's hard but try not to feel guilty.