We started him on medication and he started bringing home better reports from school. He also started picking apart his skin, refusing to eat, and he seemed emotionless. I told his pediatrician about these side effects and his doses were changed. The lower the dose the worse his reports at school would get. The higher dose the worse his symptoms would get. I remember the exact moment I knew he would never take another pill. We were at an amusement park and all of the other kids were smiling and laughing and the expression on my sons face was blank. He was merely there going thru the motions, but not feeling this moment in his life. I know these medications work for some people, but they were not working for my son. I went home and threw the bottle of pills away. In that moment I was terrified. I didn’t know what I was going to do for him, I just knew I had to find another way.
The next few years were an uphill battle. I started doing a lot of research and learned quickly that every kid with ADHD is different. There is no one size fits all solution. I realized his best bet for learning how to live with his ADHD without medication was through behavior modification. We got him into a school with a program and started experimenting with different methods at home to see what worked for him. My husband and I became pros at re-direction and we started using caffeine as a natural remedy to get him thru harder social situations (caffeine calms my son for some reason instead of stimulating him). I had to teach him that ADHD was not an excuse for delinquent behavior and that acting out would not be tolerated. Eventually, he got caught up in school and he started bringing home good reports. His conferences and IEP meetings started to be all about the successes he was having instead of about the problems.
I never really let it sink in that he was doing better until he was admitted to the hospital for tonsillitis. I told every doctor and nurse who worked with him that he had severe ADHD and needed to be explained things slower. After he had his tonsils removed he was on pain medication and could not focus or sit still. When he finally fell back to sleep his nurse looked at me and said, “I owe you an apology, you kept telling us that your son had severe ADHD and I was looking at this calm, well behaved, and compliant 11 year old boy and I thought you were some crazy mom. When he was put on pain medicine it was obvious that he could no longer control his actions by monitoring himself and his ADHD symptoms showed and they are severe. So you obviously have done a wonderful job with him because I truly couldn’t tell he had ADHD.” Her words made me cry. Not because I was drowning under the guilt like before, but because I finally realized our heads are above water. I know it’s going to continue to be a battle, but I can also see know that we are winning.
That is why I am writing you this letter. To let you know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t focus on worrying about why your child has this or what you might have done wrong. Don’t listen to the ignorant people who don’t understand. Don’t listen to people who swear they know what the answer is, if their solution isn’t working for YOUR child. Just follow your heart. That is why they were given to you, because your love will get them thru it.
Another ADHD Mom
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.