Everyone dealing with any type of chronic condition must face this question at some point. So, let me preface this by saying, everyone’s situation is different therefore the consideration and answer, also different.
My youngest (6yrs), is affectionately referred to as Boo or Donkey. He has a number of chronic conditions he copes with. His nicknames inadvertently stem from some of them. Boo is actually short for Boo Boo Bear. Many think of Yogi and Boo boo and this applies because he’s the youngest of two boys and is very adorable. But I started calling him Boo boo bear when I was about 20 weeks pregnant with him. That is when we found out that he had a boo boo, Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. I will have to post more about that some other time. “Donkey” has only been around the last 2-3 years, only because of the close resemblance in behavior he has with the character “Donkey” from the Shrek movies. Particularly Shrek 2 when Shrek and Fiona return home to the swamp from their honeymoon and then begin their trip to Far Far Away.
For the last year or two it has been pretty obvious to our family, to his teachers, and his many doctors that we are also dealing with a pretty severe case of ADHD. Last year we added a new doc to the mix, one who specializes in kiddos with spinal cord injuries/defects. That’s when we learned there is a very high rate occurrence of learning disorders and ADHD. Because he was only going into kindergarten at that time, we focused more on behavior modification and coping mechanisms for mom and dad. I will say this helped me a lot!
The specialist indicated she’d like to do a full round of testing before 1st grade… and that’s what he just finished. Over the course of about 8 weeks, and about as many appointments, the doctor observed not only his behavior, but how he processes and applies knowledge and skills. This is the part that is scary for me. He routinely had difficulty applying what he knows. For example: He knows that fire is hot, but this doesn’t enter into his train of thought, he doesn’t know to change his behavior when around fire to keep himself safe. He knows what he’s supposed to do, but has an extremely difficult time doing that instead of his own impulsive desires. This can be applied to any facet of his life, but the two most important are his own safety and school. What the specialist described and then projected a bit further down the road in school doesn’t look good. This was also hard for me to hear. The husband and I both did well in school and love learning to this day. Our oldest has been classified as gifted – and has an IEP to ensure he continues to be engaged with challenges during his educational career. Boo is already having a pretty difficult time grasping the concept of addition.
The area we’re overall the least concerned about, but in all honesty, the most effected is at home. As a family coping and dealing with all of the his medical conditions and extra care has been pretty easy. It’s just what you do in cases like this – lock arms and take care of business. But emotionally and for sure relationally there is a lot of strain. This is the part I don’t want to factor in when contemplating ADHD medication. How do you ignore the strain on one family member because Boo is more likely to comply with what needs to be done when that person does it? Or the strain on the others when they are caring for him and are required to resort to constraining him in order to caring out medically necessary care? How are the relationships being effected? Father & Son, Mother & Son, Husband & Wife, Brothers
With these and many other components factoring in, we’ve decided to see if adding an ADHD medicine to the arsenal of weapons we utilize helps us give our boys the very best we can.