Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our ADHD journey

I've been tossing around the idea of writing this post for over a year now and finally decided to type it out, mainly for my memory and to show the progress Bennett has made. 

It all started when Bennett was about 18 months old.  He was a very high-spirited baby, making others laugh and always getting the attention of strangers.  He could get anyone to look at him from across a restaurant.  Around age 2 we would get comments from his teachers about how he had misbehaved or had to go to time-out.  We didn't think much about it because, I mean really, he was 2!

He would always get in trouble at church, birthday parties, school, and basically wherever we went.  We literally could not walk away from him at an event with other children for fear that he would put his hands on, punch or tackle other kids.  No one ever really gets in trouble at church either!  We moved to a pre-school and the notes, calls, texts, and emails started coming nearly everyday about needing to change his behavior.  They would say "he cannot keep his hand off other kids or he does not listen."  We knew all these things, but again, he was 2 years old.  Neil and I weren't too stressed about it.

We moved him to First Baptist for K-3 and K-4.  Early in K-3, his teacher sent us notes, emails, phone calls, and texts about his behavior. Friends would have to get on to him at parties and such. It was just so sad, because at this point we were wondering if he could help it or not.  We knew that he was the smartest 3 year old we'd ever seen (because that's what all parents think about their babies), but we could not figure out why he didn't cooperate! I left the school conferences and carpool several times in tears.  One day I walked Bennett to class and left, but I forgot my keys so I had to go back...I heard a mom say "well, here comes trouble!"  I cried all the way to school and when I got there.  I just wanted to say "he is soooo sweet, has the best heart, and the best kid I dare you!"
We tried literally everything we could think of to help him.  I met with the pediatrician about what to do and she gave me several ideas that we tried.

Here is a short list of things we tried to make it all better:
  • sticker charts
  • behavior charts
  • daily chart from the teacher
  • fish oil vitamins to help develop neuro-transmitters
  • took out red-dye (Bennett loved strawberry milk, but we read somewhere that red dye could be a problem)  No more strawberry milk.
  • time-out
  • spankings
  • positive reinforcement (sent a new toy to school that he could earn at the end of the week)
  • Orange Leaf after dinner for a good day.  We would basically throw a party!
  • We even made Bennett go to Henry's school for 3 days to the "baby school." :(
  • Essential Oils in the roller bottle on the back of his neck and bottoms of his feet (made him smell like a hippie)

After none of this stuff worked we went back to the pediatrician and she suggested medicine.  NO WAY! I am not putting a 3 year old on medicine!  Are you kidding me?  So, we had the teachers and I fill out Vanderbilt forms.  These forms can tell a variety of things from ADHD to depression, to oppositional defiance.  After all the forms were back in it was clear to the dr. that he had ADHD.  We were firm in our decision to not put him on meds.

A few months later we were at the surgery center having Henry's tubes put in his ears.  Dr. Pou randomly started talking about kids who snore.  By this time Bennett was 4 and we were still having the same issues at school. We were open to any and all suggestions.  So, Dr. Pou started saying that lots of people think it's funny and cute when kids snore, but it really is a serious issue.  He said most kids are labeled ADHD when they really have sleep apnea.  Ah Ha!  This is our answer!  We told him about Bennett, because he snored so loudly...we thought it was so cute.  Little did we know.  He said we should bring him in to be evaluated.  We made an appointment and Dr. Pou confirmed that his tonsils were huge.  We told him all the school issues and he said his tonsils needed to come out.  We made the appointment for Spring Break.  We just knew this surgery would solve all our his issues.  It didn't.  We went back to school for the last month and a half and just tried really hard.  We knew that Bennett was so smart, but we were starting to realize that he couldn't really help his behavior.

We started off in K-4 with a sweet teacher who was known for being really good for rambunctious boys.  We were excited!  She was always very good to tell me about Bennett, but didn't complain about him EVERY SINGLE DAY, which is what I was used to.  It was such a nice change.  Once he was comfortable he started getting in trouble in music, PE, circle time, and PEP.  One day the music teacher gave him a huge compliment "Bennett, you are just growing up and doing so well in class!"  I was elated and in tears when his teacher told me that.  We just never got to hear about how wonderful we knew he was...I guess the teachers just noticed the wild man we had.  I am guilty of the same thing back when I was a teacher, so I can't really blame them.  I found that teacher at the carnival and told her how proud Bennett was (and us) that she said that in from of the class.  It was so sweet!

His behavior didn't really get better no matter what we tried.  We even met with the school counselor...I always left these in tears.  I called Neil's aunt who is a psychiatrist.  She told me to look into having him evaluated by a child psychiatrist.  I immediately looked into it and got him an appointment.  Too bad it took 3 months to get an appointment.  The doctor talked to Neil and me and then really just watched Bennett play for an hour.  She went over the Vanderbilt forms, but wasn't convinced that it was ADHD or just normal, 4 year old behavior. She suggested we try the Vanderbilt forms again. We did and they all said the same thing...ADHD.  We went back in for our follow-up and the psychiatrist was still on the fence about ADHD.

While being evaluated, we heard about neuro feedback.  This was basically the end of our rope.  I talked to the counselor about it, he evaluated Bennett, and suggested we try this.  Not really sure what it did, but after 20 sessions we saw no difference.  I'd pick Bennett up, take him to therapy, and embarrassingly, fall asleep in their waiting room.  I was newly pregnant with SK and had taught all day back then. He would go in and either play a video game or watch a movie with all these cords hooked up to his head and ears.  As I'm typing this, I am just realizing how dumb it was.  The screen would get snowy if he stopped paying attention to the game or movie.  Still saw no difference. We were just willing to try anything, but meds.

We kept getting lots of comments about his behavior at school and church.  Even the teacher at PEP said "he was just awful today" to me one day after school. I was ticked that she said that in front of him and other parents.  I was sad for my son, who I KNOW wanted to do the right thing, but just couldn't find the control or the focus to do it.  I am not making excuses for him, but it was becoming apparent that he was constantly getting in trouble for things he couldn't help.

Neil was working in Tulsa Monday-Friday by this time and I would have to call him with the school reports.  He said "I think we are really going to have to do something."  So, I made an appointment for the next time Neil was in town on a week day and he took him to see the pediatrician.  I sent him with a list of 20 typed questions because I had to work and couldn't attend the appointment.  She suggested we try a medicine that he can stop taking anytime.  She suggested 2ml a day to start.  You never want anything to be "wrong" with your child, even if it is this minor, but we knew we had to make the decision to try it.  It was after many evaluations, research, book reading, crying (from all of us), and sticker charts that we decided to do it.

We noticed a difference within the first 45 minutes.  Bennett could suddenly listen to us.  He could focus on a task and complete it. He wasn't constantly putting his hands on everyone and bouncing off the walls.  Wow! The real test was going to be school.  Since we started the medicine on a Friday, we had a couple days to get him used to it.  We told his teacher that we started medicine just in case she noticed any side effects.  We had teachers who didn't know about the medicine come up to us to tell us what a night/day difference they saw in him.  People at church were coming up to us saying "wow, he is so grown up!"  We would just say "yes, we are so proud!"  I have a friend who told me she was totally against us putting him on meds until she saw the total transformation on his behavior.

A few months after we started his medicine I saw a mom who I had talked to a couple years before about him.  She has a son who is 5-6 years older and is on medicine.  I told her that we finally bit the bullet and put him on something.  I told her that he is just a different kid.  He still has his sweet heart, awesome personality and wit, but without all the unfocused energy.  I told her that we have As in conduct daily, numerous compliments, and just all around good behavior.  I said "I think people think I am bragging when I shout from the roof-tops how great he is doing, but I'm not...I am just SO PROUD and overjoyed, because these were days that we had never known." She totally understood what I was talking about and said she felt the same way about her boy.  It was so nice to have the affirmation from someone who understood what I was talking about.

One thing that Neil and I say to each other ALL THE TIME... Anyone who questions why we have our child on medicine should come over to our house at 6:30am.  Bennett wakes up in a conversation, is doing cannon balls on the bed, bouncing off the walls, and is ready to tackle the world. He cannot even focus when we say "please go get dressed." We literally have to remind him 16 times before he gets his medicine around 7:15am.  Our Bennett is such a light and has the sweetest heart, he just needs a tiny bit of help to re-distribute his energy.

FAQs (yes, we get asked questions)

  • Are you going to keep him on the medicine during the summer?
    • Yes, we just don't think it is fair to him to take away all the successes he has while on it.
  • Do you wish you would have put him on the medicine sooner?
    • Yes and no.  Yes, because he needed it so badly and is so successful. No, because we feel that we literally tried everything to help him before turning to medicine.
  • Do you think he will be on medicine forever?
    • The pediatrician said he will probably need to be on it until puberty.

I realize that Bennett might read this post one day.  The only thing I'd like for you to take away from this is that WE LOVE YOU so much that we were willing to try anything to give you the world.  We wanted to do everything to give you the very best and to help you succeed.  We are so proud of you, Bennett!  You are a true sweet heart, thoughtful in every way, and a light in this world.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Henry's first day of K-4!

Our Henry is already in K-4 at his new school.  He will stay at his new school for K-4 and bridging.  We are excited about what the future holds for this little ball of energy.  And I realize that Henry has been to about 45 schools in this town.  Hopefully this is the last one before Big school. :)  Henry didn't get to start with all the other kids on their actual first day because he puked so we started the next day.  He didn't seemed bothered by it.

We are thrilled about our new school that everyone says we are going to love!

Henry and his new teacher, Mrs. E
He found his star and checked himself in by putting his star in the "boys" bucket.

He wants to be a fireman!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Storm

Who knew living in the "country" was so tough? ha! Not really, but I like to make Neil crazy when I say we live in the country.  We have lots of trees and neighbors with big trees and I consider that the country.  The kids and I were all sitting around at the house listening to the storm and watching the wind blow.  The umbrella in the patio table blew over so I called Neil to make sure he was OK.  He was fine and said he'd be home shortly.  Sister kept getting scared of the thunder and would look at me like "what on earth was that!?"  I guess she will be scared of weather like her mama. 

Neil got home and looked at me funny and said "what have y'all been doing in here?"  Well, he had to create a new way to get in our gate because 3 trees were across our driveway!  No idea any of this was happening.  Anyway, we went and looked at all the damage and were thankful that no one was hurt.  We had neighbors with tress on their houses and on their fences.  We decided to walk about the back and another tree in our backyard was uprooted.  It took out the neighbor's fence, shed, and another tree.  Thank god for Homeowner's Insurance!

Our driveway leading into the gate



Backyard uprooted tree


This branch just snapped and took out our neighbor' fence

It only took 6 city workers to stand around while 1 worked.

We had a tree crew over the next day cleaning up the uprooted tree.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Henry's fire-station 4th birthday party

Warning: Picture overload.  Amy took so many great pictures that I just couldn't narrow it down!  And I'm only posting an 1/8th of what she took!  Thanks, Amy!

Last year Erinn bought a fire station birthday party at her daughter's school auction.  I thought that was a fabulous idea so I went to the same fire station to ask for a donation for Bennett's school.  The chief was so nice and he said yes!  When I was doing the paperwork with the station secretary I asked about the value of the party and such and she said they don't charge!  WHAT?  I immediately said "well can I have my son's party here then?"  She said yes! 

It was a great party and the firemen were AWESOME.  They were so sweet, let the kids play on the trucks, squirt hoses, rigged up our piñata, and even had dispatch say Happy Birthday Henry over the intercoms.  What a special day for our 4 year old!

The flames were for the fire party but also the BLAZING HOT weather we've been having.  I couldn't even leave the cake on the table because it was so hot.

so cute!


This piñata!  It required a Dallas trip and a fire hat,

Aunt Becky gave Henry this outfit and a little radio that he LOVES!

So glad we got this family picture before the party began.

Aunt B and SK

Sister loves to say "cheeeeeeese!"

Gammy and her babies

me with the birthday boy

Piñata time!

go Maddie!

Big brother needed a try.

so did Daddy!

Go Jay!

Nana blasted it!

In the end, Beau stabbed it and then Miguel broke it open after all the kids and parents too a whack at it. 

These cuties in their hats!!

Time for firedogs and cake

The kids loved the fire extinguisher candy in the piñata.  Ewwww.

Sarah Kathryn was sooooo good the whole time.  She just played and watched the fun.

Happy birthday, Henry!

Dad had our awesome shirts made.  They had a fire man logo with Henry's 4th birthday, Henry's monogram, and est. 2011, Love!  We were so glad Di came to join us.

We love Carol!  She is always so sweet to come to the parties.

Daniel, SK , and Becky.  They are the best helpers ever.  Couldn't have gotten everything done without these 2.

Water hose time!

Fireman Chris was sooooooo fabulous!

Big brother loved getting to enjoy the special stuff at the party. cute!

After everyone left, the boys got to play IN the ambulance and pretend to drive the firetruck.  Talk about special treatment!  Henry even started the firetruck and turned on the lights.

Bennett was LOVING IT!

What a fun party!  Happy Birthday, Henry!  We love you soooooooooo much and can't believe you are already FOUR years old!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First day of 1st grade

How is our biggest boy in FIRST grade???  I don't know how these years have flown by, but wow!  Bennett is so big and a first grader.  We are so proud of our bulldog!

1st day of first grade and he still wants to be a policeman when he grows up.
Henry wanted to get in with Bennett.  Fingers crossed that Henry will be here one day.

Bennett's teacher, Mrs. A.

He was a little unsure when he found his desk and sat down.  Hated to leave him.
so proud of this boy!
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