Tag Archives: RTI

I Don’t Have ADH. . .

5 Dec

It’s not like we weren’t paying attention. In fact, with only one child, paying attention was never an issue for us as parents. He had our full attention and we thought everything he did was amazing and wonderful.

We were so in love with him, in fact, that we had a positive explanation for the range of his eccentric behaviors. Running full tilt into a wall for fun? He needs extra stimulation. Lying in the grass in left field, tossing his mitt in the air and catching it, while his teammates are attempting to win a game? Well, who wouldn’t be bored playing left field? Circling the little boy next to him then taking a bite out of his arm while the teacher reads a book on sharks? He has a vivid imagination.

It wasn’t until we adopted our daughter and were no longer focused solely on our son that it came to our attention that he had a problem with focus. And staying still. And keeping his hands off of things. And blurting out ridiculous statements.

What did we do about it? We tolerated it. We even encouraged some of it. Really, who wouldn’t be amused by a child who blurts out “Chicken!” at random moments throughout the day? While I knew that his tendency to hang on people (their bodies, not their words), was annoying, I figured he’d learn more from the annoyed taking a swat at him than from my constant nagging. Nope.

Then he went to middle school. And he started failing. And failing. And failing. We tried punishments. He continued failing. We tried inducements. He continued failing. We talked to his teachers. He continued failing. We tried a homework completion spreadsheet. He failed to complete it, even when he completed the homework.

He hated writing; he hated reading. His handwriting was so terrible that even if he had the right answer, if the teacher couldn’t read it, what was the point? We coaxed, we cajoled. We checked homework. We reminded. We crossed our fingers. We sacrificed goats. His grades didn’t improve.

Eventually, he was referred to an interventionist. At this point, I need to make sure you understand that he hated writing, couldn’t remember his assignments and, if he did his assignments, couldn’t remember to hand them in. We’ll ignore for a moment the fact that he was still blurting out things like “I like pie” and hanging on people.

RTI, response to intervention, is all the rage in schools these days, the goal being to intervene before the child fails. Obviously, we got to it a little late. Still, I was thrilled that our son would be getting help.

First recommendation from the interventionist was to have him practice writing to a prompt as soon as he came home from school. Second recommendation from the interventionist was to have him track everything he did every half hour from the time he came home until he went to bed.

There is no witty way to describe my reaction to these recommendations. I believe I said something to my husband like, “Are they freaking crazy?” Still, we tried the tracking thing. It worked if I followed him around and badgered him into filling in the little half-hour blocks. Most of them had notes like, “Argued with Mom.” This, I told myself, is insane. Actually, I probably used the past participle of an “F” word.

And my son continued to fail. Abandoning the little half-hour blocks and the afterschool writing torture, we sought the advice of other experts. Eventually, thousands of dollars and four professionals later, we had a diagnosis: ADHD.

Well, duh, you say.

Yeah, duh, I say. I spent a lot of time kicking myself for turning over every stone looking for solutions while ignoring the big one in the middle of the path. I’m still kicking myself but at least now I’m doing it while I’m learning everything I can about ADHD.

While it’s a relief to know what we’re up against, we’re up against a pretty formidable foe. Routines and habits are essential coping mechanisms. Tell that to a teen. I’m not even going near the nutrition suggestions yet. He needs all the calories he can get to counter the weight-loss that accompanies his medication routine. Down the road a little, we’ll have to worry about driving. He’s not pushing it and neither are we. Kids with ADHD get more tickets and have more accidents. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. We’ll cross those bridges when we get to them, but we’re looking ahead so we’ll be prepared.

In the meantime, I’ve learned that people can be pretty goofy about ADHD. Some people think it’s over-diagnosed. That may be the case, but after resisting the appellation for more than five years, I’m pretty sure we’re finally barking up the right tree. Other people make jokes about it, blaming their day-to-day forgetfulness and distractibility on the disorder.

ADHD jokes don’t really bother me all that much, but I wondered what my son felt about them. So I asked.

“I don’t care,” he said, then mentioned a friend who calls it “ADSO.”

“ADSO?” I asked.

“Yeah. Attention Deficit. . .Shiny Object!” he said. “But mostly I tell my own jokes.”

“Really?” I asked. “What are some of your ADHD jokes?”

“You think I remember?” he said.

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