Lawrence's New ADHD Medication
My son Lawrence started kindergarten last year. It was kind of tough on him. The class was three hours long, and they only had a short, ten minute recess about halfway through. And unlike pre-school, there was a curriculum that had to be completed by the end of the year. Goodbye Show and Tell, hello learning by rote. His teacher was wonderful and very patient, but it eventually became clear that he was having trouble. Nearly every day he got a time-out for talking in class. His teacher worked with him on these issues, but after all, there were nineteen other children in the class. So she was very concerned that the first grade teachers would be less tolerant than she was, and that his self esteem would suffer from constant discipline and being made to feel like a bad kid. His grades were good, and everyone found him very personable, but he was definitely disruptive.
We had him evaluated first by a pediatric neurologist (he also has problems with handwriting) and everything checked out. So then it was down to a pediatric psychiatrist. As I said in a previous SharePost, I was concerned because I heard that the one doctor we could see in network tended to see ADHD everywhere. And sure enough, at the end of the first appointment, the doctor diagnosed him with ADHD. To be fair, my husband and I and my mother all have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. So I agreed with the doctor that the odds were stacked in favor of him having it. But I wanted his high kinesthetic bodily intelligence to be factored in. Unfortunately, the multiple intelligences theory is not officially recognized by most psychiatrists, so when I mentioned it, for the most part, I merely got mostly a quizzical look.
The first prescription we tried, Vyvanse, was an unmitigated disaster. Amphetamines like Vyvanse typically calm and improve the focus of someone with ADHD. That's how they work on me. But Lawrence became unbelievably hyper. So back we went to the doctor. This time the doctor prescribed a Methylin, a generic form of the active ingredient in Ritalin.
I was definitely apprehensive about trying the new medication, and waited a couple of weeks to even fill the prescription. None of us had really enjoyed the last experience. Unfortunately, less than two weeks after the start of school, he was still getting into trouble for talking every day. The teacher had a system similar to the Homeland Security color chart - the child would go progressively from green to yellow to orange to red with each infraction, although I assume you could leapfrog yellow and go straight to orange or red if it was a severe infraction. Red meant a call home. Lawrence had made it to yellow several times for talking, and even to orange one day.
So on Saturday morning at the start of Labor Day weekend, I figured I'd put it off long enough. The next day we had a pool play date planned, and out of control hyperactivity and pools definitely don't mix. And since it was going to be a long weekend, if one day was ruined by Lawrence being hyper, well, we still had two days left. So I gave him one of the pills in a spoonful of Nutella, and figuratively held my breath. Last time he had started getting hyper at about 45 minutes, holding a very animated conversation with his computer. This time, forty-five minutes passed, an hour passed and at two hours I was finally confident that he wasn't going to have the same reaction to this medication.
But would it do anything positive? This wasn't the best environment to test in, since school was really the problem, but I did notice that he seemed calmer than usual. I asked him to do some learning games on the computer. Half an hour later, he was still at it. Normally he starts whining after twenty minutes, tops. "Do you want to do something else?" I asked him. "No, I think I'll do this a little longer," he said. He ended up working on his math and reading for an hour and a half. On the weekend.
I've been giving him the medication every school morning, although I make it clear to him that it's his choice whether he wants to take it or not. So far, he seems to be getting many fewer yellow lights, and no orange. Of course, this is self-reporting, but I've found him to be honest about this issue in the past.
So I'm happy to say that I was wrong. It appears that Lawrence does have ADHD, and he can be helped by medication. We'll see how things go over the next couple of months. I'm guardedly hopeful.