Sunday, November 25, 2012

The week in ADHD news

One of the more aggravating things about ADHD is feeling like you have to constantly convince people that it's real. And not some made-up excuse to drug a bratty kid into submission. Or a way of justifying bad parenting. Etc.

Which was why it was sort of heartening to read about this study out of Sweden, which found that teens and adults with ADHD were more likely to commit criminal behavior -- but dramatically less likely to commit criminal behavior if they were still on ADHD medication. Said a professor who's researched ADHD but wasn't involved in this study:
"There definitely is a perception that it's a disease of childhood and you outgrow your need for medicines. We're beginning to understand that ADHD is a condition for many people that really lasts throughout their life."

Probably I should be flipping out about the idea that kiddo is more prone to criminal behavior, but I'm just delighted to see an article based on the idea that ADHD is real. As opposed to wondering whether it is real, or whether it's overdiagnosed, etc.

On the other hand, there was this story, which found that the youngest kids in a class were more likely to have trouble with academics and behavioral issues, and were also 50 percent more likely than the oldest kids in their class to be prescribed ADHD medications by the time they hit seventh grade.

In other words: 1. Maybe meds are overprescribed after all. 2. The parents who obsess about school cutoff dates and holding their kids back an extra year might actually have the right idea. Although the researchers said the study might not be conclusive across the board, and could possibly also mean that ADHD is undertreated in the older kids, not overtreated in the younger kids.

So, a bit of an up-and-down week in news stories.

In more local (ahem) news, kiddo had a couple of good days this week, thus proving that it's possible for him to have good days. We restarted the star chart and that seems to have made an impression. I also, for whatever it's worth, started giving him gluten-free foods. I'm not being completely strict about it -- if I were, I would've banned all gluten from his diet for a few weeks to see if it made a difference -- but I am keeping him gluten-free at school, just to see what happens. Supposedly ADHD kids sometimes have food sensitivities -- not allergies -- to gluten and/or dairy.  If I get the sense that any of his behavior is somehow food-related, I'll modify his diet further.

There is of course the possibility that he'll be this way no matter what he eats, so I'm not being too obsessive about it.

The OT at school finished her assessment so we should have some results this coming week, when we meet with the school again. Kiddo's teacher noted that the OT said he seemed distracted during the evaluation. Again, glad they're seeing what we're seeing. The in-class observation won't happen till December -- thanks a lot, Sandy -- and we'll meet on those results in January. Progress is progress.

At any rate, kiddo and kiddette had a lovely Thanksgiving and even tried to dance along with the Rockettes during the parade. And since all of our immediate neighbors have already put up their Christmas lights, it's time to move on to the December Month of Shopping Madness and Way Too Much Sugar. Um ... hooray?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

And now back to our regularly scheduled angst

Just before that whole storm thing, DH and I met with various school officials for that RTI meeting. It seemed promising. I don't think I've ever been in a meeting where everyone involved was so utterly on the same page. That being: Kiddo is smart -- even a little ahead of the game academically -- likable and happy, but he can't sit still, can't focus well, needs constant supervision, doesn't deal well with transitions and has trouble interacting with other kids. We knew all this already, but it was nice that the others all saw it, too. So they planned to do in-class observation to figure out what needs to be done next, and we were waiting on the evaluation from the school occupational therapist. And then the storm hit and I have no idea where we are on any of this.

In the meantime, he's had a lousy week. Not listening. Refusing to work. Getting in scuffles with the other kids. Pushing, apparently unprovoked. And then coming home and lying to us about how his day was. His teacher's been emailing us daily updates, of course, so we call him out on that. I even read him one of the emails.

The lying bothers me but it's apparently pretty common in ADHD kids (not to mention kids in general, I imagine). They can't control their behavior, they feel bad about what they did, they try to cover it up. I think as long as we keep reminding him it's wrong, and show him we know the truth anyway, he'll give it up. At least I hope.

He keeps name-checking one kid in class as taunting him, claiming the kid calls him a "bad boy." Which seems pretty plausible, considering I met this kid on the zoo trip and either he's got what kiddo has, or he's a jerk. But kiddo is going to have to be able to deal with this stuff. I told him not to play with the kid, and that just because someone calls you a name doesn't mean it's true. But his teacher has observed that kiddo seems drawn to the kids who are likely to clash with him and make fun of him. Not sure what that's about. Maybe he wants attention so badly he'll put up with negative attention? Maybe he doesn't know a jerk when he sees one?

Two other problems: His talking doctor -- aka his behavioral therapist -- is about to stop taking our insurance. And his gym doctor -- aka his occupational therapy facility -- is no longer a option, because of billing issues. As in, they agreed to take our insurance even though they don't usually, and they don't really have a medical billing person on staff, just an office assistant, and our insurer had no record of any of the claims all summer but we didn't know that until the owner called us in a panic, because there was this $2,000 unpaid bill and other people owed them money too and she was afraid they'd have to shut down. This was probably information we could've used before the bill became $2,000. Anyway I've been calling the insurer, and making the OT resend claims, and they've been getting payments slowly but complaining that the payments aren't enough, and trying to make us pay the balance, and then the last month's worth of claims were denied because the code on them was deemed not medically necessary. When I told the office assistant that, she told me to call the insurer and find out which codes they meant. And then I blew up at her via email, on the grounds that I was not doing her job for her.

The upshot: The owner called the insurer instead to try and work things out. She also frostily informed me via email that she had decided not to accept insurance in the future. I frostily replied that we appreciated all their help but were trying for in-school OT, and that would probably be best for everyone involved.

I'm hoping school OT comes through, obviously.

So: No talking doctor, no gym doctor. No support system for kiddo, right when he needs it most. That has to be a factor in his behavior. Frustrating because I know he loved going to both. I'll try and find another therapist, maybe one who focuses on social skills. I'll find him something else. I do hope the school comes through on some help.

At least they see there's a problem. A lot of times, school officials either think ADHD is bogus or they think the kid's problem is bad parenting, or they (illegally) push the parents to medicate. But here, they seem to know what they're doing. And they like him.

He really is a sweetheart of a kid. If we could just help him figure out how to be the best version of himself, instead of the worst.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Quite the fun week

It's an odd thing when nearly everyone you know has lost power, and you feel guilty because you haven't. And you don't have to exist on takeout and charging your phone at warming stations and standing in the cold for hours to get gas for your generator. And you drive home from work in the dark and it's extra darkness all around you because all the homes and businesses have no lights.

Not to mention the trees down everywhere and the power lines hanging down to the ground. Kiddo and I have already had the discussion about how he should never ever touch power lines.

We did wait on a gas line last weekend, because I had a quarter-tank left and it was an even day and I couldn't put it off any longer. (Seriously, I have no idea why the governor was so confident in our math skills with this even-odd rationing thing. Question I saw on Twitter: "Is zero even or odd?") I told kiddo to bring some books and a toy, and I took some snacks along just in case. We ended up only waiting a half-hour or so, which these days, isn't bad.

About the books: I've known for a while that kiddo basically could read. He's been trying to sound out whatever words he sees, and when his teacher sent home sheets of words to make into flash cards, he already knew every one. The only thing stopping him was that he hadn't realized it yet. So he was contentedly sounding out words in the car seat, and I was checking things on my phone, and suddenly he announced: "I can read!" I agreed that yes, he could, and that moment made the whole gas line worth it.

 The rescheduled Halloween went off as planned. At least in our neighborhood it did, because we had power, along with the quiet streets and sidewalks that usually attract kids from outside the development to begin with. Our neighborhood was probably one of the few in the area where kids could go trick or treating safely. So everyone came here. We didn't run out of candy, but if the doorbell-ringing had gone on too much past 8 we would've. DH took our kids around. I was working from home, so I sat on the floor near the front door with my laptop, ready to jump up and grab the candy bowl when necessary. Wonderful for my back, I'm sure. But still easier than getting up from the dining room, sitting back down, getting up, sitting down, etc.

I'm pretty sure some kids were repeat customers. I pretended not to notice.

Some of the neighbors were complaining afterward about all the non-residents showing up for candy, and how they like it better when they know all the kids they see. I wasn't really bothered. Mainly I feel bad for the kids. Two Halloweens in a row have been utter weather disasters, and instead of celebrating, the kids have been stuck in the dark and cold, watching their parents freak out about the spoiled food and the lack of child care. Or they've lost their roof or their whole house. Not fair, not right. They deserve to have the happy Halloweens I did when I was growing up. If that means their parents drive them to my street for candy, that's fine by me.

Anyway, if it's in the house I'll eat it. I've already been pilfering the kids' stash.

I think at this point everyone we know has power back, and the kids' schools are finally open again, so no more days of pounding away at our laptops while the kids watch way too much TV. I'm hoping they didn't lose too many brain cells. Monday should be back to normal. Ish.

I know we're profoundly lucky to have our house and our health, since a lot of other people can't say the same.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Shore of ruins

With apologies to Springsteen. Who, for the record, I think should have played "Wrecking Ball" during the Sandy benefit concert, instead of "Land of Hope and Dreams," which after all lost a little resonance when it became the MLB postseason theme. Just saying.

We're OK. We shockingly didn't lose power. There were a few moments Monday night, very early Tuesday morning, when it went out and we thought, OK, that's it then, but then it came back on. DH and I sat in front of the TV, tuned to News 12, and listening to the wind whipping around the house and the creaking all around us, and waited for things to get worse but they never really did. Eventually we quit dozing on the couch and went to bed.

The kids slept through it. I have no idea how.

In the morning we still had power and school was closed. (We didn't know, of course, that school would be closed all week. It may or may not be open tomorrow. There is some cabin fever going on.) The house seemed OK. Here is how much we lucked out: Wednesday or Thursday, when we finally ventured outside, we discovered the two huge evergreens on either side of the house had both been uprooted. Completely out of the ground. Both of them fell away from the house. In opposite directions. They're like dead tree bookends.

We kept watching News 12. And hit up Twitter and Facebook. And then we started to see the images from the Shore.

Look, I'm from South Jersey. I grew up on boardwalks. I've been on the rides at Seaside Heights and I've played the cranes in Point Pleasant. I love that little aquarium there. I've admired the pretty beachside houses and hung out at Jenkinson's and eaten my share of funnel cake and boardwalk fries fresh out of the fryer, which are the best fries in the world.

When I was even younger, and we lived in Monmouth County, we used to go to Keansburg. There was a giant undulating slide that you went down sitting on a burlap sack, and there was a rotating helicopter ride where you could make the copters go up and down as they went around. There was a duck game, where you just picked up little plastic ducks as they floated past you and whatever was written on the bottom determined the prize you got.

All of that is wrecked now.

The images of devastation keep horrifying me over and over. I feel terrible for all the people who lost their homes. But the shot that really went right to my heart was seeing the roller coaster at Seaside Heights sitting in the ocean.

We didn't make it down to the beach this summer. It's a long drive now, and I hate sitting in Shore traffic -- like I'm somehow above it because I used to live 20 minutes away. Plus we have a pool nearby. But I wish we'd tried. Because I really liked bringing my kids to the places I used to love. I liked watching them on the beach and trying to win them stuffed animals in the arcades, the way my father did for me. I liked watching them shriek with pleasure on the kiddie rides. And I don't think we'll be able to do that again. Not for a long time, if ever.

Things might get better. But they won't be the same.