He entered third grade at a lower reading level. He was seeing the reading specialist last year, so this was expected that he would still be playing "catch up" in third grade. He has been working so hard at getting better at reading and has done so well. His self esteem is higher than it had been and he would seek out reading as a pass time instead or cower from it. Then the OAA tests happened. If you aren't familiar with them, they are part of that "Leave No Child Behind" bullshit. I am not a fan of standardized testing. I don't believe they are accurate and have way too much importance placed on them. Yes, I was bad at them. No, I am not a dumbass. I scored well below my high school SAT average but guess what, graduated college with Latin Honors. Ok. I'll step down from the soapbox now, but I'm just sayin.....I could go on for a while about my hatred of these tests.
So the OAA. They start practicing and focusing on it in second grade and the reading part of this test determines if you can go to 4th grade. They get two shots, one in the fall and one in the spring. Well, needless-to-say, RP did not pass the fall one. With this continued reading troubles added to him being much more distracted in third grade added to the already existing ADHD diagnosis, the teacher and the reading specialists are at the end of their interventions at school-they don't know how else to help him. He is starting to change his attitude about school because of the daily reminders about behavior and he is showing reading frustration again. They are concerned that without a medical intervention added to the accommodations for testing, that passing in the spring could not happen.
I'm not crazy about this idea but it's one of those parenting moments where you have to make a choice. My biggest concern is that he is educationally successful. Repeating third grade, to me, is not an option. He is smart. He only get As and Bs. He does not deserve to be held back if his cognitively parallel or a little ahead of others. So now, I bite the bullet and try something that could help even though I don't necessarily agree with it.
His pediatrician was great about answering my questions and helping with my concerns. I told him everything we had tried over the past year and he agreed that what we tried was good. He said should continue them because learning coping mechanisms is part of the treatment for ADHD, but he agreed that it is time to try medicine. He started him on the lowest dosage possible. He told about how there could be some headaches and tummy aches during the first week and those are typical side effects.
RP started the medicine two Fridays ago. It was a really good day. I can't remember the last time we had a day like that. There wasn't a single argument. And I am talking about a day full of challenges like being at the AT&T store with my dad and step mom for over an hour, running errands and making returns, and just in generally not being at home (which is what he wanted most). Then that evening we went to B's mom's and then his dad's for a quick Christmas visit. It wasn't until the way home that a possible side effect surfaced. He was talking about how much he likes B when he started comparing B and mr and then started crying about never telling me how he really felt about mr. There was so much to that conversation that I know it was more than a side effect, but the way he was acting was not typical RP at that moment.
Today marks day 14 of the medicine. The weepiness lasted for a few days but we haven't had a cry fest for maybe the past 5 days. Bedtimes have all kinds of awful. I spoke to the nurse at the pediatrician's office and apparently, this is not uncommon. She said that there is a mixture of coming off the medicine and underlying anxiety being displayed. As soon as she said that he could have some anxiety that has gone unnoticed because it was displayed at bad behavior, I realized how much that makes sense. So, we will have to tackle bedtime-anti anxiety- coping mechanisms now. And she also suggested a low dose of melatonin to help (which I would have never thought of).
Yesterday (I have to mention this because it is a very positive instance in a less-then-positive post), I picked him up from school and asked about his day. He proudly announced that he did not get a single reminder. Then we get home and his package is on the front porch. He used some Christmas money to buy a Lego set off eBay since it is no longer sold in stores. He was very excited to get it and started building it immediately. In no time, it was completed. We had eaten dinner, he has play time, dessert, TV time, and now it was bed time. It wasn't going well. We tried drawing his fears but he got frustrated with not being able to draw them correctly. Then I rubbed his forehead for a bit to help him relax. 15 minutes later, no sleep. Then he was scared. And upset. Then he finally relaxed again and I told him to think about something good. He looked at me with his beautiful blue eyes, smiled slightly and said, "Today was a good day, no reminders. I got my Legos that I forgot about. Had a good dinner. Got to play. Have a good Mommy, even got to watch TV. It was a really good day." He smiled again and closed his eyes. He was asleep within 10 minutes. Granted this was about an hour or so after bedtime, but he finally allowed himself to relax and focus on the positive. The calmness he had thinking about his day, the confidence in his voice, and the pride he had was priceless.
I am not saying that I have converted. I am not saying that I think this medicine will be a wonder of all wonders, but I haven't heard that voice from him in long enough that I think I can attribute some of that to the medicine and how maybe it makes him feel more in control. We shall see where this part of life takes us. The stress of cost of the medicine may be the only thing I can write about next time there is an ADHD label.