Hocus Pocus

I am all about finding alternate ways of dealing with Baby’s ADHD. As I have noted before, I am not a fan of medication, although I know the benefits.
I want Baby to be able to deal with her ADHD without them though, and this summer has been about finding different ways of teaching her life skills.

One of her more aggravating symptoms is her inability to focus on any one thing for longer then 15 seconds.
“Baby, go get your shoes on.”
“Ok, Mama, I will… KITTEN!”

She gets distracted by rocks, shiny roofs, a moving piece of speck in the sunlight. She is the epitome of ADHD and on my good days it does give me a chuckle. The other day as I reminded her again for eleventh time to stay focused on her task, she began chanting to herself, as she is wont to do. “Focus, hocus, pocus”

It was like a lightbulb went off on my brain! Now, instead of getting frustrated with her for getting off task, I merely say “Hocus Pocus” and she will stop with whatever is distracting her and say Focus as she gets back to the task at hand.

I feel like a genius!

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Summer Vacation

This summer Husband and I have decided not to medicate Baby for her ADHD. I knew that it would be a challenge for everyone involved.

Baby is going to have her challenge of attempting to “turn her brain on” and learn the necessary Life Skills to help her succeed in Grade 2. All without the aid of medication.

Kid is going to have to learn to not push his sisters buttons, and how to talk to her so that she will hear him.

Husband and I are going to have to deal with task of TEACHING her the Life Skills that she needs to learn this summer

And then there are countless camp leaders that are going to have to deal with the Hurricane that is my daughter. So far this summer, she has only been a part of 2 summer camps, but I have at least 3 more lined up – one of which is a week long, overnight, camp. For many of these camps, the leaders are teenagers with little experience dealing with children with behavioural issues.

Why would I make this decision, you might be thinking? Wouldn’t the social and education advantages outweigh the side effects that we see?

There are a number of reasons on why we made this choice. Some of them are good reasons, others are reasons that are not really reasons per say, but advantages of this decision.

First of all Baby lost 6 lbs being on her medication. This scared me. 6 lbs is not a lot of weight, but when she is already underweight and only 6 years old, 6 lbs is intense. It got to the point where her ribs were visible. I wanted to get her weight up, but since she was hardly eating on her medication this would prove difficult while she was still taking them.

Another reason was the “kickback” we were dealing with. Sometimes, her mood swings were 10x worse as the medication wore off then they were had she not taken them all day. I was getting to the point where I wanted to deal with small mood swings 100% of the time versus HUGE mood swings only 15% of the time.

It was also getting to the point that after about 6 weeks of her ON the medicine, we were seeing no difference in behaviour between her on the meds and her off the meds. The first time we saw this plateau, we increased the dosage (much to my dismay). When it happened again, I knew the doctors would want to increase her dosage again, and I have to say, I just was not comfortable with that.

Honestly though, the biggest reason why I made this decision is probably in conjunction with my “anti-medication” viewpoint. I never liked putting her on the medicine, and I definitely do not want her on medicine for the rest of her life. I am not the type of person who would see the medicine as a “fix-it” solution. I KNOW that it is merely a safety net, an aide so that she can learn the Life Skills. But I thought, if she does not have the opportunity to USE these Life Skills without the meds, then it would be almost pointless to spend so much time teaching these skills to her. So I figure this summer would be the BEST time to take her off the medicine and teach her the skills all while giving her the opportunity to use these skills.

Halfway through the summer, I regret my decision. Teaching an ADHD 6 year old girl Life Skills is HARD! I am both mentally and physically exhausted. ALL. THE. TIME. I wake up in the morning, and I am ready to go back to bed. I drop them(both Kid and Baby) at camp and I don’t even want to do the “mommy” things that I have to do, such as laundry and cleaning. I go to class and I can’t focus. Some days, I just want to let Baby have her meds just so that I can take a small break to regain my sanity.

/Le sigh. As much as I want to change my mind, I know this will benefit Baby in the long run. My job as a mother isn’t supposed to be easy. And so I trudge on. Reciting the reasons over and over in my head, as I search for the light at the end of the tunnel.

 
On a completely separate note, I did not in fact get into the Social Work Program for September, and so I am done school as of next month, and currently on the hunt for a job. Potentially more on this in my next post.

2014/2015 School Year

I just had a very informative meeting with the principal of my children’s school. Here in Canada, we are winding down our school year. The kids will have July and August off of school and head back at the beginning of the September.

While I can’t say TOO much, as nothing is official yet, and I know I have some local readers, I can say that 2014/2015 school year is going to be the best school year ever!

Baby, who was diagnosed with ADHD in February has had horrible luck with teachers. She starts Grade 2 in the fall, and in her short educational career has already been through SIX full time teachers!! In Kindergarten, even though she was attending for half days, she saw 3 teachers come and go.  One had a surgery and had to get a substitute for 3 months, and then we transferred schools half way through the year. Then for Grade 1 the poor girl went through another 3 teachers. Her regular teacher took a medical leave just before Christmas, and we all expected to see her back afterwards. A substitute was hired on a temporary basis. Well, the medical circumstances took a turn for the worse and the teacher decided she couldn’t come back. Unfortunately the sub had already made plans to travel overseas, so she had to take her leave and the school called in yet another substitute. I worry about Baby’s Grade 2 year as she seems to have a curse that follows her. 😛

Turns out Grade 2 is looking to be a pretty stable year. Baby will have a .6 and a .4 teacher. (which means that she will have one teacher in the class 60% of the time and another 40% of the time). This is ideal for Baby as she has been primed to see ‘some action’ as the principal phrased it. Also, a little birdie told me that there is a good chance that Baby’s teachers will BOTH be teachers she has seen in the past! I have also been told, on the down-low that she will have the BEST EA assigned to her!! I am more than excited to see the growth in her next year!

As for Kid… in the scuffle that is his sister, I am ashamed to admit that sometimes his needs and desires got pushed to the back burner. I have been proactive in the sense that I have kept his teacher up-to-date on the happenings at home, and there has been one particular EA who has taken a liking to my boy and makes a point of checking in with him sporadically to see how his emotions are being handled. He also sees the school counsellor regularly, so he is not being neglected in any way. I have just had to delegate his needs to outside resources. /hangs head in shame.

However, his Grade 4 year is going to be smashing! The little birdie told me that my son will be in a 4/5 split class, as he is ‘academically advanced’. This worries me a bit as INTELLECTUALLY he is fully capable of grade 5 work. Hell, that kid is capable of learning some university material and requests that I teach him more 2000 level neuroscience. However, he has a few issues applying that intellect into his work. I am also under the impression that teacher that is coming in is OVER-qualified for the position. Her education and experience is through the roof! I am told that she will be able to stretch his intellect and help him apply himself to the work! Yay!

I am also told that the same EA that has made a point of checking in with him this year will also be the EA that is in his classroom on a full time basis. So while he doesn’t have an official EA assigned to work with him, he will have  a familiar face in his class 🙂

As for me? Well, I am still waiting to hear back from the University about my Social Work application. However, I am not stressed. I know that I am fully capable of being the best Social worker, and am already working on gaining experience and education to better assist me in the position. Hopefully I hear back soon though. Other than that, I have been elected to be the secretary of Parent Council for the 2014/2015 school year!! Super excited for that, and what a wonderful opportunity to utilize my Office Administration Diploma!

The next year is going to see some tremendous growth for everyone in my family and I am so excited to see what the future holds, and incredibly blessed to have an amazing school that is helping me raise my children into wonderful, beautiful, compassionate adults!

Mama’s test of Strength

While today may be the real test to see if Baby will be able to focus while taking her medication; its also a test of my strength. It was hard enough to bite my tongue while she took her medication yesterday, when I was around her all day. Today,  I have to go about my day knowing that Baby is out there. On her medication. Without her mama.

Don’t get me wrong, I trust her school completely. I do not think that I would have been able to find the strength to get this far without the support that the entire staff provides me. But knowing that doesn’t make this choice any easier on me. It takes all my strength not to pop into the school during recess, just to see if Baby is as happy as when I left her. Or to text the principal to see if there have been any issues. She has a whole school to run, after all. I cannot expect her to make my daughter, one child out of 500, her #1 priority.

I guess I am stuck waiting. Just a few more hours until I can go pick up Baby, and Kid, and see if this is the great start to a wonderful week that I so desperately need. Or if I will spend the rest of this week just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My Daughter Has ADHD

My daughter has ADHD. She has a disorder. That is what ADHD is. It is a disorder; a malfunctioning of the frontal cortex of her brain. The part of her brain that helps to control her impulses and decision making.

No, it is not a part of her diet. I do not deny that diet can affect her both in a negative and positive way. However, there are some individuals who will be totally unaffected by diet.

No, it’s not because of poor parenting. Am I great parent? Well, I ain’t getting any parent of the year awards, but I love my kids, and I haven’t killed them yet. Actually, low standards aside, I think that I am doing a pretty decent job considering the cards that I was dealt. Yes, I left my husband was pregnant with my second one, and yes I spent over half of my kids’ lives as a single parent , fighting depression. But they always had a roof over their heads, food on their table and a shirt on their back.

No, it’s not because my daughter is merely “craving attention,” or “crying out for her mom.” I will admit that I am away some evenings due to my class schedule. BUT, I am volunteering at the school more often than some stay at home moms. I supervise field trips if they do not interfere with my schedule, and sometimes even when it does. I partake in the monthly Family Fun Night the school has. We have Family Game Night every week, Movie night every week, and Family Meeting every week; Regardless of how much school work has piled up. We sit down to meals at least 5 nights a week, even if some of those nights Mama has to pull a dine-and-dash to rush off to the next class. I help them with homework, and I read to them. Granted, sometimes it’s my psych book, but it’s getting done.

Truth of the matter is that my precious daughter, my perfect 6 year old angel has a disorder that is neither her fault; nor in her control. This is something that I have spent the past four months coming to terms with, and the year before that living in denial about.

Sadly though, when my six year old is facing suspension, and her classmates are fearful of coming to class, it is something that I am forced to face. Something that I have to deal with so that I might have my adorable Baby Girl back and we can prevent any more social ostracizing and future problems that she may face.