Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Can't I Stop, Mom?

I get a lot of people asking me when I realized my son, now 7, had ADHD. I always try to frame my answer in a way that does not seem like I simply wanted to run out, find a pediatrician who would listen to me and then medicate him to "calm him down."

So let me backtrack and maybe explain why and when I realized that if he didn't have ADHD, we were all on our way to the looney bin!

J was born in May of 2006. Even when he was in my belly, he kicked non-stop. It was to the point that I had black and blue marks on the OUTSIDE of my stomach. Yeah, it was pretty bad. Then, when he was born after 38 hours of labor via emergency c-section, he didn't stop kicking. I know a lot of people say that all babies kick, but seriously. He NEVER.STOPPED.KICKING.EVER!! He kicked those legs so often and for so long I had to swaddle him in 2 large blankets to get him to stop. J had GERD (Gastro-esophogeal reflux disorder) and he threw up about 1/2 of everything he ate for almost 18 months. He had to sleep on an incline and 2x I came into him almost suffocating on his own vomit. Lets just say it was pretty much torture for a good year and a half.

But then, at about 14 months, J started walking. Great right? I mean, it gave us some time to get to know this kid without worrying that he was going to throw up on us and it was so cute how he was toddling around on his long, skinny legs. But wait!! One day after he started to walk, he ran. I mean, RAN! I turned my back for a second and off he went like a rocket! And he never stopped running. Everywhere he went, he ran like Forrest Gump. I couldn't get him to take a breath.

When he was about three, we would take him to the park or to his grandparent's house and he would run the kids into the ground with his energy. We would walk three miles around the Rose Bowl and he would come home and run up and down the streets for another three hours. One time, we counted as he ran around the perimeter of our house 60 times. Yes, sixty times. We had to tell him to stop and he wasn't even tired.

But it wasn't just the running or the energy. He had no impulse control. He would climb on top of the couch and fly off onto the cushions over and over again. He would have epic, three hour long screaming tantrums without the ability to calm himself down. He would become violent if he ate anything with Red Dye 40, he would not stop getting up, jumping, singing, screaming, poking, throwing things. He couldn't sit still long enough to even color a page or watch a movie. J was constantly on the move.

When I brought up the possibility of ADHD to his pediatrician, I didn't hear "No" or that it "wasn't possible at his age." I heard, "Well, we could try meds." Unlike a lot of parents, I didn't cringe or refuse. I actually sighed in relief. My son was starting to realize that he wasn't like the other kids and he would get into trouble a lot. He didn't like the feeling of being so out of control. He would come home, depressed because he couldn't manage like the other kids. When he asked me at age three and a half, "Why can't I just stop and listen, Mommy?" it broke my heart.

I gave him his first dose of Adderall right after his fourth birthday. That was the day he colored his very first picture. I cried and kept the picture and kept him on his meds. We have switched him to Vyvanse after the dose of Adderall kept getting higher and that was the indication that Adderall wasn't the right medication for him. He has been on 40mg of Vyvanse for almost a year now without the need to adjust or increase and he also takes 5mg of Adderall in the afternoon that lasts until he goes to sleep.

When people ask why I put him on meds or why I had him diagnosed so early, I think I always look at them a little funny. Why wouldn't I, as a mother, do everything in my power to help him succeed and feel good about himself? Why wouldn't I give him something that his brain chemistry is so clearly lacking? If he was a diabetic, would I deny him insulin? NO? Then why is ADHD any different?
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