Saturday, March 20, 2010

A mothers worst nightmare..... the diagnosis

This is very hard for me to write this so bare with me. My oldest who will be 8 very soon was diagnosed with ADHD about a year ago. His teachers kept complaining about him being impulsive , not staying in task etc. So they convinced us to get him evaluated. Well the teachers filled out a questionnaire for us to take with us. It was a scale with a list of behaviors and the occurrences of the behaviors. So we went for the evaluation and of course the doc said it was ADHD. I immediately questioned it because the diagnosis is based on questions answered by teachers. I felt the teachers could make things worse than they are just to get him diagnosed. I say this because they want kids to be on meds, this way they don't have to deal with them as much. He was on the verge of being kicked out of school for being hyper so against my better judgement I convinced my husband to agree to treatment. The doctor said counseling or behavior therapy was not an option. So he said meds was our only option. He went and explained the types of meds(stimulants and non stimulants) and the risks. I knew off top that Ritalin was not an option. So my husband and I agreed to try a non stimulant called Strattera. The side affects were scary but not as scary as the stimulant drugs. Some of them were death, heart attack, suicidal behavior in teens, depression and aggressiveness to name a few. We were told it would take a few days to show any signs of improvement in behavior. Well the whole time in the back of my head I'm saying " why am I doing this to my baby ? I'm such a bad mom" . So I literally watched over him like a hawk. I was terrified out of my mind. Well his behavior in school improved within a few days and he improved at home. But at home his behavior was mild compared to how it "supposedly" was in school. Well we continued to give him the meds for about 8 days. Suddenly, my son looked like he was literally dying right in front of my eyes. He stopped eating and drinking, seemed to have no energy, looked very pale. So I started freaking out more and really blamed myself. I felt that I let the school convince me to hurt my baby and put his life at risk. His symptoms lasted for days and he lost alot of weight. Immediately I stopped the meds but told my husband we would not tell the school. So weeks went by and the school said the meds are helping his behavior has been great. In my mind I am knowing he wasn't taking them and that they were out of his system. I kept this from them to prove a point when I fought them head to head about this. I knew all along they wanted him on meds . When they said his behavior was still great after we secretly took him off the meds, an alarm went off in my head. I was thinking hmm was his behavior really that bad to begin with or did they falsify the papers that I took to the evaluation. Because I knew the so called behaviors couldn't improve that drastically and stay that way especially once I took him off meds. So eventually I let the cat out the bag and told them how I felt they were treating my son unfairly. Immediately they said well if he's no longer on meds and has bad behavior he will be removed. My response was first off you don't call a child or their behavior bad because they will grow to have a complex. They should know this because teachers take Psychology class. Secondly I told them that I was calling the school board to report them because they refused to make accommodations for him. They are legally required by law to do so. So we had a few IEP meetings and I took documents showing what they had to do for my son. The teachers right in front of the principal said oh we refuse to do that, it's not necessary, I don't have enough time during the day to praise him or reward him a sticker every half hour. All of these suggestions were made by the school Psychiatrist and are proven to work with ADHD children. I used the system with him at home in hopes that if the school did it as well, he would be fine. Well I felt they did this out of retaliation because the next day he was sent home. They sent him home on an emergency removal for breaking an eraser in science class. He was not allowed to return for 24 hours. All of the teachers in the school, including teachers that were not even his own knew all about him. It's as if he had a bad rap. So when he returned to school he would come home sad and crying. He said all 3 of his teachers called him bad and moved his desk far away from the other students off in a corner. So I did what any parent would do, requested a meeting with the principal. What a total waste of time because she agreed with the teacher. She then told me that when my son misbehaved she would call me and allow me to come up there to her office to whip him with a belt. Now what school do you know that condones this? The doctor even told us not to whip him. This was way out of line for her to say. So I offered to come sit with him in the mornings since they said that's when his behavior is worse. They agreed for me to do it for a few days. Well during this time I observed kids doing things to my son and he was getting in trouble for it . I saw 4 children doing the things they said my son was doing and not being disciplined for it. These children were fighting, rolling around on the floor etc. So I'm thinking ok do these kids have ADHD , did the teachers tell their parents they need meds? So I brought this up to the principal and she said she no longer wanted me to sit in the class room anymore. The next day my son came home and said the principal told him that at lunch he has to stand next to her and eat because he talks too much. Its like the more I fought for my son and complained, the more they picked on him. I decided since I wasn't getting anywhere with them to call the school board. Well they set up a meeting with all the teachers and the school Psychiatrist and assistant superintendent was present. I kept a journal everyday of how they treated my son and shared it with the assistant super. Right away the principal got upset and said " this is in the past, must we talk about it? the purpose of this meeting is to come up with a plan for your son". Immediately I snapped back and said I have been trying with you people and have been getting no where. The assistant super was shocked by the evidence I presented to her and she apologized. She told the teachers that they had to comply with the IEP and praise his behavior often and she even offered for him to have like a tutor to come in daily to do his work with him on a one on one basis. He didn't have any learning issues at all, he actually tested higher than his whole class in every subject . But by this law or ordinance called IDEA and there's another one but I forgot the name. Anyway it says he was entitled for special seating close to the teacher, a special tutor etc. My thing is this why didn't the school offer me this before since they knew he was entitled to it? It took their boss to tell me this. Which really upset me cause the whole medication thing could have been avoided if they offered me this. So we put the new plan in writing and everyone had to sign off. Well things were getting even worse for my son. His teacher refused to let him in the class so he was made to sit in the principals office everyday. Kids would tease him calling him bad and making fun of him not being allowed in class. He was forced to stand on the wall at recess and watch his friends play. He didn't tell me this until the end of the week so it was no way to address it until Monday. Well my husband and I decided to sign him up for homeschooling. So that Monday we signed him up but had to wait two weeks for an orientation and for our application to be approved. During that time he had to attend school everyday or be counted as truant. So I had no choice but to let him go. I worried about my baby all day, praying and begging God to watch over him. I was pregnant with my youngest during this whole ordeal which lasted months and it caused me alot of stress. I literally cried when I dropped him off to school because it hurt me knowing what they were going to do to him. Finally I got a call saying he was approved and that someone cancelled for orientation so there was a spot open that next day. So my husband attended orientation since I couldn't and I felt a little relief. I explained to the lady in charge of the home school the urgency to get him withdrawn right away. She understood and felt bad for what my son had to go through. So she called me about an hour later saying we could pull him out immediately, god bless her for being so prompt. I called the school and told them I was on my way to pick up my son and to have all of his belongings packed and ready to go. The principal says " oh are you transferring him to another school? its sad to see him go (yeah right lady) . I said no we are homeschooling him so you all can no longer harass him and taunt him". So I went to pick him up and he said "mommy my teacher told me to hurry and pack my stuff and that I'm never coming back here again". She didn't even let him say goodbye to his classmates. My husband and I had to explain to him why why took him out of school . He didn't understand and still doesn't . The first few months all he said was he missed his friends and that he loved his teachers even though they didn't love him back. This brought me to tears knowing that my baby was suffering so much there but still loved the teachers. Its been a little over a year now since hes been home schooled. He still asks to go back and says he misses his friends but not as often. He was in first grade when we pulled him out and within 2 months he was moved up to second grade. The benefit of home school is you work at your own pace so he passed up all his classmates. He is doing so much better by being at home. He got good grades there but here he is learning more and having fun doing it. A month ago he started third grade( he should only be in 2ND) and we are preparing him for the proficiency tests that will be given in April. When I sit and think about it I feel we made the best decision for him at that time. True he misses out on socialization but he is better off. I was going to transfer him to another public school in our city but they are all in academic emergency so this is the best option. My son deserves the best education and so do the other children but its up to their parents to remove them. If the school is in academic emergency that means the kids are not learning what they need to learn and I refuse to let the system fail my child. He is very bright and intelligent. But when we relocate I may try him in school again but I'm not sure. With him doing so well I don't want to chance him back sliding. Far as his behavior at home he does what I expect a child to do at his age. Kids will be kids but he hasn't had any major issues with his behavior though. I thank you all in advance for reading and I hope if you have or know someone with a child who has ADHD or thinks they might have it please direct them here to my blog. I can answer questions and provide them with resources that most doctors or schools won't tell you. I even have some natural tips that are proven to work (wish I knew them then) , support groups etc so sprwad the word. Have a great day everyone,

next up......... my pregnancy journals and birth story

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