Last week I told you the story of how my son got diagnosed with ADD. If you didn’t read it, I suggest doing so before you read on – just so you have the backstory. It was a long process and definitely not an easy one. What I didn’t mention before was that when my son got his ADD diagnosis from the neuropsychologist, he was also diagnosed with depression & anxiety. Not only that, the neuropsychologist recommended that my son needed some OT (occupational therapy) and speech therapy. She explained to his father and me that our son had some auditory processing issues and was only catching every one out of 16 words that were spoken to him. The ADD diagnosis was expected when we got the results of his testing and I suppose it wasn’t a huge surprise that he had auditory issues, but the depression and anxiety were certainly news to his father and I.
But now that we had an official diagnosis, we could start getting our son the help he needed. A copy of the neuropsychologist’s report was sent to me, his father, his school and his pediatrician and once everyone had a copy, things started happening pretty fast. Appointments were set up with both his school and his pediatrician and I am going to break each one down.
IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Meeting
Once a special needs student is diagnosed, the school sets up an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. That’s where parents and people from the school (teachers, the school psychologist, etc) meet to discuss that particular student’s needs and how they will be able to help that student succeed. Someone from the SPED (Special Education Department) called me the day after receiving the report to set up the appointment. My understanding is that they had 10 business days from receipt of the report, so I was thrilled that they called me right away to set up the meeting.
Before I go any further, I want to tell you how much I LOVE my kids school. My oldest is now in the middle school (which I am also very happy with) and he had a wonderful experience at the elementary school year after year. You know how you buy a house in a town because you hear the school system is good, but because you either don’t have kids yet or you do, but they are not school age at that point, you don’t really know until your kids are enrolled in the school system? I knew pretty much right away as soon as my oldest went into kindergarten that I made the right decision and could not possibly love the school system in my town any more than I do. Seriously, they go over and above where our kids are concerned and I could never possibly thank them enough for all they do.
But anyways, back to the IEP meeting.
The day of the meeting, my son’s father and I met with his teacher (who has been absolutely phenomenal), a few ladies from the SPED (Special Education Department), the school’s Speech Language Pathologist, the Occupational Therapist and the school psychologist. About half way into the meeting, the principal joined us because we wanted to speak with him about the possibility of retaining him in 3rd grade. His father and I have decided to move ahead with the retention, but at that point it was still in question.
Anyhow, the meeting took about 90 minutes. My son’s teacher spoke at length about his behavior in class and his concerns. I was thankful for his brutal honestly, but in fairness we’ve met with him a few times since he took over the class in January and he’s never been anything less than forthcoming with us. Neither my son’s father or myself have ever been in denial about his situation, so we’ve always felt that we’ve been able to handle whatever his teachers have told us.
In addition to my son’s teacher speaking about his concerns, the school psychologist went over some of the findings from the neuropsychologist’s report. The ladies from the SPED department were both constantly asking questions to find out as much information as they could about our son and recording the information the entire time. They wanted to gather as much information from his teacher and both of us parents as they could to make an informed decision regarding his education.
After all was said and done, I was extremely happy with the results of the IEP meeting. My little guy is going into an inclusion classroom next year, which is what I was truly hoping for. In addition to the teacher, there will be a full time aide in the classroom. My son does better in small groups and that’s a lot easier to accomplish in an inclusion classroom. He’s also getting involved in a peer group at school, which I think is super important since he’s repeating third grade and will be with a whole new set of kids. I want him to make new friends – not that I am worried about that at all because he’s really friendly and outgoing, but since retention isn’t that common anymore these days, I don’t want it to be a huge blow to his confidence, which is already low at this point in time (the depression and anxiety).
He will also be getting extra help in math & reading (visual aides as well as step by step instructions for math), as well as a behavior chart to help keep track of daily issues such as not paying attention or off task. His current teacher does this and it works really well for him. Oh, and he’ll be getting some extra time to complete his standardized testing from now on. There is a written copy of his IEP coming in the mail & I haven’t gotten it as of yet, but since school just got out for the summer last week, I don’t need it right at this moment.
It was also decided at the IEP meeting that my son was going to get his OT (occupational therapy) and Speech evaluations through the school. Since the meeting was taking place so late in the year, those evaluations will be done in September. Both my son’s dad and I were ok with that and will both go back in for the results once they are in. If he needs services for either one – or both – they will be done through the school.
One of my concerns about my son repeating third grade was that he wasn’t going to be challenged enough, but the school is going to work with him to ensure he’s being challenged next year. I could not be happier with the help that the school is providing to my son and I am so thankful that they care so much.
So here’s the question – to medicate or not to medicate. Guys, there is no right or wrong here. Each parent has to decide what is best for their own family and not be made to feel bad about that decision. You know your family best and you know what will work for your family individually. My son’s father and I were both in agreement that we wanted to try medication for him. The poor kid just cannot focus. We’ve tried giving him a stress ball, which definitely helps, but the attention and being able to focus is definitely still a major issue.
My son, his dad and I met with the pediatrician to discuss our options. I love my kids pediatrician as much as I love their school – just so you know. He’s a phenomenal doctor and I just adore him.
Anyhow, we had a half hour consult scheduled with the pediatrician at the end of his day and he spent well over an hour with us. Both myself and my son’s dad had a lot of questions and the pediatrician was more than happy to spend the time with us to ensure that we were well informed as his parents. By the time our visit was over, both my son’s father and I felt satisfied that medication was the best option for him. His pediatrician agreed as well.
When kids start medication for ADD/ADHD, it’s not something that’s regulated by weight like other medications such as antibiotics are. It’s trial and error and based on the child’s metabolism and the medication effects everyone differently. The pediatrician said he had a high school student of his on a very low dose, but has a six year old on a much higher one. The medication is designed to help focus improve and stop a lot of that fidgeting that kids with ADD do. My son literally would not be able to sit still for even a whole minute prior to the medication. I had no issue with it, but I know it’s not considered acceptable at school and I hate to see him get in trouble at school for something that is not his fault. While my son’s school is AWESOME, I know that the fidgeting would become more of an issue when he gets into older grades.
The medication is to be given at the same time each morning and will wear off between 6-9 hours later. It’s just enough to get the kids through the school day and wears off by dinner time.
A big part of our decision to medicate was how it was going to help slow down our son’s decision making process. He’s very impulsive and makes a lot of bad choices because his brain can’t slow down long enough for him to stop & think about the consequences of his actions. The medication will help him slow down just enough to (hopefully) see the big picture and make better choices. I will definitely keep you updated on it, though. We just started medication two weeks ago and while the fidgeting has stopped and the focus has improved – we are all still learning.
And in case you happen to be feeling judgy about our decision, I offer you this: I was always one of those moms that swore up and down that I would never medicate my kids if they ever got diagnosed with ADD. I was dead set against it until I was in that situation and saw that the benefits far outweighed the negatives in our situation. So you just never know. Each situation is different and we all have to do what’s best for us.
The neuropsychologist recommended getting our son into therapy with a child psychologist for the depression and anxiety. The thing is, child psychologists aren’t as easy to come by as you would think. There are a lot of them around, but after calling at least 10 different ones in my area, none of them seem to take on new patients. It was a pretty frustrating week of leaving messages and waiting for calls back only to find out these people couldn’t help me. I ended up coming across a social worker in a neighboring town who not only specialized in helping kids with ADD, but also depression and anxiety. I set up an initial meeting with her so that his dad & I could make sure she would be a good fit for our son. We wanted to meet her alone (without our son) the first time and we both mutually agreed that she was going to be a great fit for him. She sees my son once a week and seems to be making some good progress with him, so we are very happy with that.
My ex-husband, both of my son’s step parents and myself just want to the best for him. The four of us get along really well and we all are actively involved parents, which is the best thing when it comes to our son. I am happy with all of the progress we’ve made in treatment over the last month and I love the “team” that we have helping us. I am happy that my son is going to have a much better school year starting in September.
I will definitely keep you updated once he goes back to school, but things are definitely looking up for him as of right now.