Month: May 2014
Dylan and I were riding in the car, discussing his friend who had invited him to a birthday party.
“I guess he’s talking to me again,” Dylan said when he got the invitation.
“So,” I asked him on our way to buy a birthday present, “do you think his friendship has anything to do with your being off medication?”
“I dunno,” he said. “Just one day he told me he wasn’t going to talk to me anymore. He said I was annoying and he didn’t talk to me for like three months.”
This happens frequently in Dylan’s world. Then, for whatever reason, the friends come back.
I can’t tell if this is typical of middle school, or if Dylan is just completely unaware of the people around him.
I remember when Dylan first went on medication in fourth grade. He was playing basketball with the guys at recess every day. A few days after he started taking pills he said, “I noticed that people throw me the ball more now.”
I still can’t determine if this was a result of Dylan being aware that he was getting the ball more often, or if he was just more aware of the game itself. Or if the guys had noticed that Dylan was more on task, and they actually trusted him more.
Now, in seventh grade and completely off med’s again, I asked him flat-out: “Do you feel any different now that you’re not taking anything?”
“I feel more brain-dead,” he said.
That was a shock. I expected him to say he felt more alive, more like himself, more the person he wanted to be. For all those months, Dylan said he didn’t want to take a pill. He said things like, “You don’t want me to be who I am. You just want me to take a pill.” He spat the word “pill” at me.
But now he says he feels brain-dead.
“We’re going to the neurologist soon,” I told him. “Do you want to try another stimulant?”
“I guess,” he said.
“If you really want to try another stimulant, we can,” I told him. “I just need to know what you want me to fight for.”
“I said ‘I guess,'” he repeated, probably not wanting to admit – any more than I do – that it’s our best option.
So I am going back to researching – to the book I adore, Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids, and the saved email messages from the GT/LD group that I got back in October, recommending a variety of medications.
We are starting over, again, to see if there is some miracle pill that will allow my child to focus on things that don’t interest him – so as to someday graduate from college and do a job that does interest him.
I don’t feel delighted by this option. I don’t feel hopeful. I don’t feel like it’s a good – or a bad – choice.
I am simply taking the next step – again. And while I probably should be praying, I am instead holding my breath to see what will happen.
Dylan is scheduled to go back to the neurologist next week.
We’ve been going to the neurologist for years to get medication. Now, there is no medication. So why are we going back?
Are we planning to try a new medication? Should we just sit and tell her what’s going on, then explain that we’re just going to let him fail in school so that he doesn’t kill himself before he turns 18? Or should we see if any new ADHD medications have been invented in the past few months?
Should we try a different stimulant, a lower dosage, a higher dosage, a different non-stimulant? Or should we find a new doctor? Should we go to one of the fly-by-nights we interviewed years ago, who wrote us a prescription without even examining our 10-year-old?
Or should we put Dylan on a constant regimine of coffee and other caffeinated beverages, since that’s how his dad stays focused? And what if that works? Are we willing to risk the heart problems, high blood pressure, anxiety, irritability and digestive disorders that come with it? (Apparently, my husband thinks it is worth the risk to his body – but would he think it is worth the risk to his son?)
I keep thinking we should try a different stimulant – something without such a huge crash. But then I remember Dylan, wailing and moaning and face-planting himself on the floor in despair.
And I think, no. No stimulants.
I don’t even know why we’re going in, except that we love our neurologist and we really need help. I just can’t even fathom what she’ll be able to do for us. I should go in with a plan, a thought, a hope. But I have none.
I don’t want to see him fail. But more importantly, I want to see him happy.
So now what?
We checked Dylan’s grades at the mid-way point of the final quarter of 7th grade. He has 100% in Engineering and Chorus – and 98% in P.E. We are so proud. All of that without medication!
Unfortunately, he has 3 D’s – in algebra, social studies and science – and Dylan is failing English. He’s also accomplished all of that without medication.
Most of these grades can be remedied by Dylan simply turning in his work. He completes some of it, but he rarely turns in anything. He claims that he doesn’t know which things need to be turned in, and which things don’t need to be turned in.
For algebra specifically, he is missing eight assignments. He has had math homework four days a week since the second grade. And yet, he claims that he didn’t know that there was homework for those eight days.
When Dylan gets home from school, he goes straight to the couch, plays on his iPad, listens to his iPod, and texts his friends all afternoon. This happens every day, without fail.
“Are you sure you don’t have homework?” I ask him.
“I don’t think I have any homework,” he says.
“Did you ask your teachers after class, just to be sure?” (This is a strategy we developed last month, so that Dylan would know for sure if he has homework. He’s supposed to ask his four core teachers every day if he has any homework or missing assignments.)
“Oh, I forgot to do that today,” he says, “because (insert lame excuse here).”
For about a week, I was able to check up on him. Then I forgot, or we got busy, or something happened, and now he just forgets regularly. He doesn’t use his agenda book. He doesn’t use the voice recorder we got him. He doesn’t write down anything.
Our next trick is a pen that records classes on the end of the pen. The special ed coordinator is going to learn how to use them, and Dylan will get one for school next year. It sounds like a miracle.
It also sounds like a long time away. And it sounds like another cool gadget that will keep Dylan interested for a few weeks, until he comes up with another excuse as to why he can’t use it to record what needs to be done for homework – or why he “forgot” to turn it on during class.
We took away Dylan’s video game privileges last week, when we learned that he was missing some assignments. He still hasn’t bothered to turn in those assignments – and now there are a dozen more.
So we took away his phone, too.
Now he’s furious with us for the consequences of his actions – and I spent the morning at school, talking to the algebra teacher (who is no longer allowing homework to be turned in late – but will make an exception this once) and talking to the special ed coordinator (who will hopefully be getting that pen for him).
There are no other options. With medication out, and every natural cure already tried and failed, I am lost.