The Boy - Part Five, or The End of the Beginning

Thank you all so much for sticking through this. I promise, after today we will be up to date. (In case you're new here: One, Two ThreeFour.)

First Grade. We made it.

When the year started, I wanted things to start off on the right foot with Ben’s new teacher. I wrote a long letter to Mrs. P, and let her know the issues that we were facing with him. I explained about the ADD diagnoses, and that we were trying our best to treat him without medication. I took the time to sit down with her and talk to her. She is amazing. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. She’s made as many accommodations as possible for him in the classroom. She’s gotten a wiggle cushion for him, allows him to use pencils with grippers and fidgets. She’s even set aside space for him to work quietly or stand, if that helps him focus. 

Basically, she gets Ben.

Most days it’s a game - what works for Ben. I mean, let’s face it, there is a huge gray area of what the typical six year-old is going to want to focus on, and what the ADD brain is going to do. Ben lives in that space.

But now it’s November, and time to get serious. We’ve completed the first marking period, and his grades reflect his inability to sit and focus.

So, we have submitted paperwork for his first ever IEP. For those of you who are learning this along with me, an IEP is an Individualized Education Plan, and comes after a range of meetings. We had our final meeting on Friday and we found out what services Ben will be eligible for at school.

Ben will get twice--weekly sessions with the school occupational therapist, to help him address the attention issues and some of the fine-motor challenges. I hope there will be more. He can keep all the accommodations that have been made for him in the classroom. He can have extra time to complete tests if he needs it. They have also requested that a physical therapist evaluate him to see if he needs PT as well.

Lastly, we have a list of things to tackle at home. He has trouble with executive function, and needs to be guided along to learn how to break down tasks and transition from one activity to another.

In all of this I am so grateful for the support that I’ve found. From family offering their love and willingness to learn; to friends sharing their experience; to all of you reading - thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.


DebraLou said…
It's a tough journey but you are doing a fabulous job advocating for him. Don't rule out medication 100%....overmedicating is bad, giving him a tool that will lift some of the burden from his shoulders is good. I have recently spoken with a couple people (different coversations) who have told me they wish their parents would have gotten them on meds to help them when they were kids. I hope he continues to do well and you continue to have great advocates in your parh!
K.Line said…
We've been on a different journey but with a similar diagnosis (minus hyperactivity) for my daughter. She's interesting because, on the one hand she has poor working memory and on the other she measures in the 99th percentile for cognitive ability. For as long as I can remember she was a fundamentally disengaged child, almost in a haze. She had terrible tantrums as a young child. Focus was never been her thing, unless she liked something and then she'd hyperfocus. She might almost fail a course, or do really well with no effort. After undertaking the same testing you did, we learned a lot more about her. I really wish I'd done it sooner too. And I waited till she was in grade 5 to start seriously addressing the issue. (It took that long for the problem to emerge because she was using her intelligence to compensate.)

Just want to say that, while I'm completely not into medication for children (except for acute illness), my best friend is a pediatrician (whose son also has ADHD, unmedicated) and she urged me to consider meds for my kid. And she's not a drug pusher for her own kid or anyone else's. Anyway, I learned more about the drug (good and bad) and more about how my child's neurochemical otherness was likely to continue until treated medically, and we decided that she'd try the drug.

It changed her personality and her functionality almost instantly - for the better - and she's continued to benefit although, by her choice, she doesn't take it on weekends. It has had no discernible side effects and she has no dependency on it. I'm not suggesting that our path is yours but I feel the need to share this story with you, for some reason. Nutrition, supplements, activity - all of these things are at the core of addressing AD(H)D, but sometimes those are not enough, while the addition of a small dose of a targeted drug can unlock a person's focus and intent and veritably wake her up. Just want to let you know that, in some instances, it can be an additional force for good (though everyone responds to medication differently).

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