After 5 months of counseling, we have a working diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD without the hyperactivity) with secondary Anxiety, a touch of perfectionism and perhaps a smidge of OCD. I see the Psychiatrist to get the official diagnosis for the 504 committee and to get the modifications and accommodations.
With barely a glance at the 15-page patient history and 11 minutes of casual questioning – including what I think is the clincher: Q: What does her teacher say about this? A: She says in 16 years of teaching she’s never had to redirect a child more than she does my Old Soul – the Psychiatrist proclaims the diagnosis of ADHD without the hyperactivity component. He moves quickly to the treatment phase saying there are 4 ways to treat ADHD.
1. Medication and therapy (best approach)
2. Medication only (2nd best approach)
3. Therapy only (doesn’t work)
4. Do nothing (does nothing)
He describes the meds and recommends Concerta, an addictive narcotic with nasty side effects (my edification based on the paperwork he gave me because he didn’t want me “getting misinformation on the internet”) followed by a 5-minute Q&A with me:
Me: What about homeopathy?
Him: Might as well eat the mushrooms on my lawn! Doesn’t work!
Me: Are there non-narcotic drugs we could consider?
Him: Yes, but they don’t work!
Me: Can we talk about the side effects?
Him: They’re not a problem. We can medicate them away.
Me: What about the potential for stunted growth?
Him: We’re talking about a half to one inch on averages. You don’t really know how tall she was going to be anyway.
Me: Was it something she said/did that clinched it or is it your experience that brings you to this diagnosis so quickly and definitively?
Him: The latter!
He says she’ll get worse, with increasing anxiety, if we don’t medicate her. He says “her anxiety is not a big deal now” and it will disappear once we medicate the ADHD. He says her brain works differently (parroting her words) and we need to medicate her to fit her into the existing education system… in front of her! Talk about a self-fullfilling prophecy!
He had not received a copy of our BASC evaluation prior to the meeting. He didn’t know that she cries 5-6 times per day because she works too slowly and falls behind, especially in math. He didn’t know that she excels in the gifted program where that teacher says her “daydreaming is not a problem here” and is “often part of the giftedness”). He didn’t know she has a few good friends but doesn’t try to “fit in” with the crowd, doesn’t like what the other girls like (i.e. Hannah Montana) and would rather talk about snakes, cats, dinosaurs and other animals, save earthworms, find 4-leaf clovers, read books and go on nature/exploration walks. He didn’t know that her 2nd grade teacher berated her in front of her peers EVERY SINGLE DAY, driving her to tears until she finally shut down and refused to do anything. He didn’t know that we didn’t have these problems last year. Nor that her grandfather, and closest companion, who picked her up from school every day of her life was put in a nursing home a year ago and just passed away. He didn’t know that my Old Soul is a quintessential optimist: under-reporting the bad and focusing on the good in her life… EXCEPT with school and academics. And that, aside from school, life is “fun!”
I explain to the Psychiatrist — who, I realize, doesn’t really know very much about my Old Soul as he proclaims her diagnosis –that I have to do my research before I can make a decision. He sends me home with “accurate” and scary information about Concerta.
Following up with our regular Therapist, we discuss the teacher’s BASC evaluation which actually indicates my Old Soul is only at risk for ADHD (no H) but statistically significant for anxiety and depression while my evaluation identifies attentional issues. (Note: my responses were entirely about her 3-hours of homework per night.) The Psychiatrist did not have this information for our meeting. I wonder if it would make any difference given his confidence in his diagnosis. I doubt it! But, for me and her Therapist this new information makes an already unclear diagnosis even fuzzier.
My plan is to continue therapy while we go forward with an official diagnosis of ADHD (no H) and get the 504 modifications/accommodations to relieve the anxiety. The teacher and I have already begun modifying class and homework assignments and we see an amazing turn-around in her ability to attend and complete tasks at school and home. She hasn’t cried at school or over homework in 5 days! She says because she doesn’t feel pressure about the workload. We’ll see if she can maintain this.
My GOAL is to get my child through the day without significant redirection from the teacher. To have her not feel the need to cry about anything school-related and to NOT feel depressed on school nights from the dread of having to go to school tomorrow! My hope is that she actually begins to like school (or at least parts of each day/week). My goal is to find an education system that fits her better. I won’t medicate my square peg just to force her into the round hole that is the public education system. If she needs medication to survive and thrive, I’ll oblige… but only after I’ve tried the non-medicinal possibilities, and not at the risk of her health.
Maybe it’s ADHD (no H). Maybe its anxiety, perfectionism and/or behavioral. Maybe she’s smarter than all of us and her behavior has been a purposeful path to decreasing nonsensical academic busy work from her life.
So, I’m doing my research! Do you have any experience with ADHD (no H) in school? Academic Anxiety? I want the good, the bad and the ugly! Treatments? Meds? Side effects? What about treatment for Anxiety disorder? Lay it on me, please.