I had a meeting today, again today. I get to have these meetings A LOT. They consist of me and Max and one or more of his teachers. Sometimes they throw in a principal to make things exciting. We gather for one purpose: The Max is too rambunctious.
Before I go into a rant, let me paint you a picture of what the scene was in the “after school naughty kid club” room.
There’s me, and Max’s regular teacher. Also present, the lady who runs the disciplinary room (the place kids go when they need a “time out” more or less). I am facing the teachers at a little table with little chairs. Behind them (in my view) is Max. Max has his back to me and is working on a series of worksheets. These worksheets are meant to keep him busy while the adults talk about him. He cannot hear us, as he is in a glass room. He finished the worksheets in record speed, and then is left sitting there not knowing what to do. So, as I am in a deep discussion about Max and his impending future, he stands up at the desk, lifts his pencil high in the air and proceeds to conduct a make believe orchestra in the most beautiful symphony I have ever heard. And the teachers were oblivious to the scene. They should envy me.
I very much appreciate the fact that his teachers are concerned and wanting to curb his behavior. I do as well, and far greater than they do for sure, they get him for nine months while I am privileged to be allowed near him for the rest of my life.
Today, however, the crap came showering down. I was informed that there would be a meeting to discuss new methods in which we could explore to better Max and provide him an alternative to his impulsive behavior. I was actually stoked. But, I did not know that this would be a meeting where I would LITERALLY be pressured verbally for 45 minutes to start Max on drugs.
Now, I will stand firm in that I do not think that drugs meant to alter behavior are, in general, a terrible thing. However, I am quite mousy when it comes to being in a situation where I could raise my voice and give opinions. I sat down with a few sheets of paper presented to me. These papers were :ADHD diagnoses forms. There were about 15 behaviors written down and the teachers Max has were asked to circle the ones he displayed. One teacher circled every damn one. The other circled most. Viola! He was therefore diagnosed.
The “specialist” then told me that he had ADHD and that it was a chemical imbalance in his brain that could ONLY be treated with prescription drugs. I asked her if she would tell me a medical test that could be administered where his chemicals could be checked. Being as they are out of whack, I figured this could be proven to me with actual medical tests. She then told me that was not possible, there were no tests that would be able to do this.
So, The only way to determine a child has a chemical imbalance, is to give a questionnaire to his teachers? Ugh, this argument is tired and boring. So many of us remain steadfast that the school system is giving up on kids and blah blah blah. I know what happens if you give kids a drug for this, they settle down to a certain degree. The child then has to deal with the side effects that exsist from the drug. Then, they have to figure out when to ween themselves off of it or if they are stuck on it for life.
I don’t necessarily blame the school for this. It aint as though Max is a perfect angel at home and only turns on the wild at school. I just wish, one time, there was a teacher who would approach the situation with an open mind and realize that there drugs are not going into my child and maybe, I dunno, offer an alternative. There is never an alternative. It’s drugs or they don’t know what to do.
SO, once again, I researched a tiny bit about drugs given to kids for ADHD. The side effects were gross. Dry mouth, Nausea, etc. etc. etc. Then I came across this:
In 2006, an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) review found 25 reports of sudden death in both children and adults after taking stimulant ADHD drugs (19 of those deaths in children). The FDA also reported 54 instances of other very serious cardiovascular problems that occurred in patients taking ADHD drugs including:
* Heart attacks
All of the ADHD Drugs have now been linked to psychiatric side effects including:
* Suicidal thoughts
* Aggression Violent behavior
* Psychotic behavior
SO, The FDA has determined that The Max might die if he takes them.
I think the next time he starts a school I will just greet the teacher with this: Max has the magical ADHD. I am more than willing to accept that he will be punished for talking too much every day until the day he graduates. But please just don’t suggest drugs. If he starts taking those, there’s a chance he might not be alive to talk at all. His non-stop chatter is somewhat comforting.
So…the school is making medical diagnoses based on the opinions of non-medical personnel circling a worksheet?
My son also has ADHD. We know this because we took him to see professionals, both medical and psychiatric. However, he IS NOT on any of the traditional ADHD- stimulant based medications. And when asked why by his former school (last year), we informed them of the 8% chance of “black box syndrome” (coma, death) of which THEY WERE NOT AWARE! So, they put him in a behavior modifying classroom, where he was successful because it was a small class of 13, not the class of 58 he’d just left.
Then we moved…
And, at the current school, not only is the prinicpal the former director of Special Ed, but my son is in a main-stream classroom where the class size is 23, not 58. And you know what? That combination makes all the difference in the world!
I don’t know how to help, but I work with a girl who is a poor parent.
She takes her children to all sorts of doctors and has them diagnosed with “disorders” which make her feel better about her lack of parenting skills.
One of her children will ONLY eat McDonalds and I think one other thing, don’t remember what. He doesnt have a disorder, he just knows if he pitches a fit and pretends to hate food, he can have McDonald’s just about every night of the week. And she lets him.
The other one is almost five, and still wears pull-ups, because she didn’t have the patience to toilet train him. He beats up his older brother and tells Mommy he hates her. I don’t know how to tell her that he doesn’t have an “aggression disorder.” He has just been neglected for five years and knows no other way to get attention.
You are a good mom.
If they are so concerned about Max and want to diagnose him with something, then they need to give him an IEP or 504 evaluation:
If he’s got a learning disability, then they’re responsible for helping you find real help, not just demanding that you ask your doctor to dope him up based on their opinion and some worksheets. You’re right that there should be other options and treatment, at least looked at.
I only spent a minute Googling ADHD IEP but it looks like some resources are out there. This article seems like a good start: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/711.html
I know Max, and he doesn’t have ADHD. He has a condition informally called “being an 8 year old boy.” Max has no problem sitting down and completing a task from start to finish without losing his attention span. I love that it used to be called ADD, and they had to add the hyperactive part, probably to increase the range of children that could be diagnosed with this condition that is really just an excuse to be lazy parents and teachers. If an 8 year old boy isn’t hyperactive at times, I would guess that he is the one with the real disorder. But that condition is easy to deal with, so nobody cares.
Also, I have known children who truly did have attention problems and hyperactivety to the extent that it creates real problems in their lives, and Max is not one of them. He is simply a strong willed boy with an excitable personality, and probably only stands out in this school becuase every parent with a slightly hyper kid has already been suckered into drugging their kid up. At the school I went to when I was a kid, the problem children were doing things like starting fires, flooding teachers cars, putting cherry bombs down the toilets, sticking foil gum wrappers in the electrical outlets, making blow gun darts with a needle, a pencil eraser and the filter of a cigarette, stealing from the school, setting off stink bombs in the hallways, or putting LSD in the teachers coffee. I honestly witnessed many of these activities before fourth grade, and by the time I graduated, we had caused 3 teachers to have mental breakdowns, several early retirements and several grade changes. These teachers don’t know how easy they have it with Max.
Hi and hooray for you! I’m the mom of two sons and am very familiar with the condition of “boyhood”. I’m also an RN and did some school nursing once upon a time. I would never give an opinion on a child I never met, but it is wonderful to read that you researched these quite scary meds and opted for the “no, thank you”. Most of the school day is designed to be conducive to behavior that comes naturally to females- quiet collaboration in groups, manners, self-control at all times, etc. Girls will sit quietly and color or read or fill in a worksheet. Boys look out the window or poke the kid next to them or conduct an imaginary orchestra. Boys need a different model of education that appeals to their inclination to DO things rather than just learn about them. I suspect that many of the ADHD diagnoses of boys by TEACHERS (never accept a medical diagnosis that does not come from a medical doctor who is unaffiliated with your school system- systems get FUNDING for special needs kids and the more, the merrier) would vanish in the face of experience-based instruction. Good for you, it seems like you’re ready to advocate for your son and I can’t applaud loud enough your retreat from the idea of stifling a creative, high-spirited boy with drugs. I’m a total stranger in New Jersey and you can certainly tell me to mind my own business : ) but I just wanted to let you know that someone you never met is pulling for you.
Max is energetic and very intelligent. He has honed in on both of those qualities, and that is not a disorder, unless “disorder” means EXTRAORDINARY!
I love Max! I love you to, Pilvie.