Diagnostic Duo

Ugh, I’ve been wording this post for like 3 weeks now in my head and hours into days on paper.  I need to get it out but there is so very much to say.  2 boys, in various stages of being diagnosed, with various behavior issues.  All at once, it’s a lot.  But I’m hoping that by not putting anything off, at some point it will be like a switch has flipped and we’ll go from not wanting to be their parents at times, to always being able to enjoy them.  I don’t want perfect.  I want manageable and we aren’t there.  But we are fighting hard to get there*.  Every. damn. day.  They are being seen, we are being seen.  We are learning parenting strategy tailored to their needs.  They are learning how better to express themselves.  Meds will be involved at various points for them.  And I’m sure us the parents off and on as well.  We are working so very hard for this.  So I have to believe that light switch will flip and we’ll come out the other side healthier and stronger.  I adore my boys.  They amaze me daily.  But they also horrify me daily and that’s not cool.

Thomas had his mental health evaluation with his pediatrician about two-and-a-half weeks ago.  I’ve been processing the knowledge and finally got a chance to sit down with his therapist alone this past Monday.  I wanted a chance to talk one-on-one honestly, without sensitive little ears hearing, and on an adult level.

There is a lot to spit out, and nothing yet set in stone.  Not that you can really set anything like that in stone.  So I suppose it’s better worded as nothing yet in print.

Right now we are leaning away from the diagnosis of ADHD.  Not because he for sure doesn’t have it, he just doesn’t yet meet the criteria.  Will he at some point?  Maybe.

What he is meeting criteria for, but only just barely and his pediatrician wants to see how this develops before this goes on written record, is Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  So basically my 8-year-old has issues with authority.  Which: duh and just grand.

The main concern, really, is that he’s bored.  He has this uncanny ability to lose himself for a long time in a subject he’s interested in.  Read endlessly, write plenty.  He just has to be interested.  If he isn’t interested, you don’t have his attention.  Then, he’s playing the role of classic ADHD.  So the question becomes: is he really suffering from ADHD, or is he just a really bored 8yo with limited ways to express this.  He’s in a structured class where the teacher has to teach not to the most advanced but to the least advanced thanks to no child left behind.  Not even the average anymore like back in my day.  So someone reading at 2-grade-levels ahead of himself, learning slightly more advanced math at home, is going to be somewhat bored.

The doctor expressed curiosity at what his behavior would be like if he was challenged a bit more.  Not skipping a grade challenged, just more freedom to explore thoughts that fancy him, challenged.

We may never know.

I brought up the possibility of homeschooling him, but that brings out a whole new set of challenges, sadly.

In the meantime, one of the biggest issues is that he turns in the bare minimum to get the grade.  If he has 2 lines to answer a question, he writes 2-3 words.  If he has a page or so to use for his answer, he writes 2-3 sentences.  So we are going to focus on encouraging more in-depth answers in his homework for the rest of this year, and then in his blog, I’m going to give him weekly or bi-weekly topics to write and I’m going to expect length.  Practice.  Practice.   Practice.  I don’t want novels from the kid, I just want him to utilize the provided space.  Because I’m assuming if an entire page is provided, she’s expecting at least the majority of it to be filled.

I think therapy, and taking care of Luke’s behavior issues, will get us a long way with Thomas.  Thomas isn’t perfect by far, but Luke is a catalyst.  Sometimes it’s hard telling what is actually Thomas’ behavior when hurricane Luke is on a roll.

Luke had to go to the pediatrician appointment with us.  I wanted Pat there, which meant all 3 kids.  In the span of an hour, the doctor went from thinking Luke may have issues as well, but he’s 4 so it’s hard to tell, to fulling agreeing there is something major up with Luke and being thankful he doesn’t have to try and diagnose it.

Which is OK.  He is a pediatrician.  He is not a mental health specialist.  The Psychiatrist Luke sees starting May 22 is, however.  And he is 4.  It is hard to tell what’s just 4-year-old and what is something more if you only see him for bits and pieces of time over the years.  I’m just grateful how fully on the same page the kid’s doctor and I are.

Unlike Thomas, I will be much less hesitant to medicate Luke.  You all should hopefully know by now I don’t like throwing a pill at the first sign of a problem.  Especially when young, growing minds are involved.  But for Luke, it’s getting near life or death.  Self-inflicted, horrendous accident, or parental temper (not so much this one), he needs meds for his own safety at this point.  He is a really hard kid to parent and it is really hard to want to be his parent so much of the time.  I get that he is 4, but this is beyond 4.  This is something not right.  At 4 he should not still be chewing on books, toys, furniture, and people because he is bored and seeking stimulation.  And not everything he is finding to chew on is safe.

Meanwhile, we are undergoing “battle preschool”.  We spent so long trying to even determine if it was possible this year (and focusing on getting him into therapy, etc) that we missed 2 of the most important deadlines for the 2 school options we were considering.  Yes, waiting lists.  But I can’t put all my eggs on 2 waiting lists.  So I’ve spent much for the past couple weeks chasing down leads and following them.  And then those leads creating more leads.  And while I may not have any concrete placement until the end of the summer, I’m determined to have him on more than just 2 waiting lists.  Even a dozen waiting lists are better than just 2.  The more lists, the better the chances.  A couple of offers, or even just one, would be awesome.  We’ll just have to see.

We are carefully looking at government-funded head start programs and possibly title 20.  With a diagnosis and our income bracket, he has chances there.  I will just have to fight for him and his best interest.  No one is more prepared to fight for this kid than I am.

There was brief talk of possible special needs based on his behavior issues.  That was quickly shelved, though not fully off the table, because hopefully by class start he will be on meds and his intelligence level, no offense, to the special needs classroom, is what we need to cater to.  He isn’t delayed, he is just a handful in behavior.  And maybe that will lead to special needs in the future if he can’t handle a typical classroom, but I honestly can also see him becoming the classroom bully out of boredom, and I’m not willing to do that to the poor kids who need to be there when he maybe just could be there.  I guess the deciding factor for me is that he isn’t actually disabled, I don’t believe anyway, he’s just stubborn.  But he could also do multiplication before he could properly count, so I’m going to do my damnedest to challenge his intellectual ass.  I just don’t feel that particular placement will be fair to anyone in that class.

But, if meds don’t help, we may have no choice just based on a need for a smaller class allowing for more 1 on 1 time.

I guess that is for now until the Psychiatry appointments start for Luke.  The first is the 22nd of this month.  It’s an hour long, but it’s just me, no Luke.  After that, she’ll see us both.  Hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll be closer to answers.  But as you are all aware, I’m sure, this is quite the lengthy process.  I am, however, willing to see it through no matter what it takes.  It is unquestionably worth it.  I love my boys and I’m looking forward to liking them a lot more than I currently do.

*The kid’s pediatrician actually said something that surprised me.  It wasn’t an off-handed comment.  He made sure I had stopped my mile a minute thought process, hushed me to silent, and looked me deep in the eyes as he stressed what he was saying was something he never said and didn’t take lightly.  Apparently, in his many years in practice, he has never seen a set of parents as proactive and forthcoming as Pat and I.  We were honest, frank, knowledgeable and doing our best to be ahead of the game.  Getting things handled before they got worse, not after.  We weren’t playing games.  We were there with all cards on the table willing to do what it took and before it got worse.  And even though, for Thomas, there is a stall in the process while we focus on therapy and wait for the diagnosis and meds, we are still very ahead of the game.  And apparently, that is rare.  He said he’d spend the rest of his life running that hour-long meeting over and over in his head.

To me, it’s common sense.  Between Pat, and I and our even just immediate family members, there is a laundry list of mental and behavioral issues.  You name it and it’s in our family tree somewhere.  We knew what combining our genes could lead to.  And we knew the best way to prevent it was to seek help at the first sign of trouble.  You catch it early, it is a lot less likely to progress to a life hindering illness or issue.  Why wait when you can treat it now?  And we both are well aware of what to look for.  Sure, we could miss something.  But the list of symptoms we know to keep an eye out for is a lot longer than the list of symptoms we don’t know.

There is hope.

6 thoughts on “Diagnostic Duo

  1. I'm glad the doctor took the time to reiterate what good parents you are. My daughter went through the same diagnoses when she was around the same age. ADHD, ODD, then bipolar when she was older (I have bipolar disorder), and now at 21 they've finally diagnosed her with borderline. That doesn't necessarily mean your son will be the same way, it's just something to keep in mind (which I'm certain you already do).

  2. At 4 and 8, it's way too soon to know anything major for sure. But much to keep an eye out for. 1 year at a time, 1 symptom at a time.

  3. I see a lot of what I deal with daily in this post. My 11 y/o daughter is ADHD/Gifted and probably ODD, though we are trying to avoid that one becoming an official diagnosis, but are aware of the possibility. I always love my daughter, but sometimes it is hard to like her. That being said, I cannot tell you how much better our lives are because we homeschool. Kindergarten and 1/2 of 1st grade in public school, with the boredom, impulse control issues, behavior issues, mediocre grades, etc almost tore our family apart. I did not want to homeschool, but after much research (including Welcome to Homeschooling Guide which introduced me to the curriculum we homeschool with)I decided that homeschool could not be worse than what we dealt with in public school. Life got immediatly better for all involved when we started homeschooling. Don't get me wrong, it is still not perfect, will never be, but homeschooling took a lot of stress off of my daughter, and allowed her to pursue school at her own pace. I'm sure you have lots of things to consider and it might not work for your family, but it did help the general atmosphere in our house to turn to homeschooling. Good luck!

  4. We've been considering home school off and on for years. For me there are 2 main problems:

    1. It would be my autistic husband in charge of this. No offense to him but I'm the one having to correct homework already in some cases.

    2. The only place the oldest has kids to play with is at school. We aren't currently in a situation where we can fix that.

  5. I understand that the socialization issues can pose a problem, we fight with this regularly. As for you having to grade the homework, part of the reason I use the curriculum that I do (Time4Learning) is because I don't have to plan the lessons or grade the lessons, this is provided for me. This makes me a much happier camper :)I just have to say that you have a lot on your plate. I wish you luck in your family endeavors, and remember that there are always options!!

  6. It's not just grading, it's the helping. In a classroom he has the advantage of teacher, peers, and parents explaining something. Removing him from a classroom is removing half of that. And in some areas, my husband can excel at helping. But my husband is at a severe disadvantage which would translate to Thomas being at a disadvantage. There is still talk of homeschooling through middle school. At least by then he'd be old enough to use the internet to his full advantage. And middle school is brutal.

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