Yesterday, I took my oldest son in to start the ADD screening process.
I've tried for three years to find some way to avoid this. To find something else that worked; vitamins, supplements, structured schedules and discipline. And nothing has worked. His grades continue to drop with each new layer of education, and his emotional well-being is faltering with them.
His teacher this year has been great....this has been the hardest school year he's had so far. I'm sure next year will be even worse if we don't get him the help he needs. In the letter that his teacher wrote for the doctor yesterday, he said that while he was not a medical professional qualified to diagnose Billy, having dealt with his own ADD and that of several students since, he fully believes that Billy has the most severe case of ADD that he's ever witnessed.
My brother had ADD growing up. I used to get very upset at the fact that my mom allowed my brother to get away with so much more than she did me. And now, while I still don't think it did him any favors to be allowed his way so often, I can understand her motivation for it far more now that I would have otherwise.
There's not much that comes easily to Billy. He struggles for every single grade he gets. Homework and tests and the mental struggle that comes with those things causes him to become frustrated, angry, and ultimately depressed. I can't count the number of times he's cried and sobbed that he's just too stupid to learn because we've gone over the same math problem ten or twelve times and he still can't get it. Seeing that day after day makes you want to make something....anything....easier for them.
I also grew up seeing my brother ostracized and bullied because of his difficulties. And while I'm sure that there were also mean children who gave him shit for the fact that he had to take medication, it was the adults in his life that were by far the cruelest and most ignorant. Most of these adults were family members, which means that my son will also have to deal with them (although not on a daily basis like my brother did, thank god). I'm preparing myself for the battles that I know will be coming. I've already had a couple family members tell me that "all he needs is a belt across his bottom".
What these family members are too ignorant to understand is that by all accounts, Billy is a well behaved child. His teachers love him and say that his issues definitely aren't behavioral. He's sweet, listens well, and behaves as he should.....he just lacks the ability to focus and is extremely easy to distract. And I refuse to spank a child that is trying his hardest and is just unable to do it. To do so would be cruel.
When his frustration and anger leak out and cause behavioral problems at home, I do correct him and he is disciplined because I do not want him to think he can use his problems as an excuse for bad behavior. Generally, some time in his room to cool down and regroup does the trick. I'm not saying he's perfect....he's mouthy (gets that from me) and stubborn (gets that from his dad) and he pushes his boundaries often. He's a normal 8 year old kid.
*sigh* So I'm terribly conflicted about this whole thing. On one hand, I'm glad that this process has started so that I can get my baby the help he needs. Make his life a little easier. Give him some confidence and a chance to truly enjoy his education. On the other, I wish I could delay this or hide it so that he doesn't have to deal with the close-minded, ignorant shit that comes with it. I'm lucky that I had my mother and brother's experiences to draw on for this. Billy deserves all the help, love, and support that we can give him.