My DS, who turned 8 two weeks ago, was recently diagnosed with ADHD. He has been attending the same Montessori school for 3 years and this year was the first time they approached us stating real concerns for his social-emotional development. He has always had behavioral issues; he is very oppositional defiant, thinks he should be able to make the rules/ run his own life (independent to the extreme and has been since birth), does anything to get attention and doesn't care if it's positive or negative (he's the class clown at school and often disturbs class). He has obnoxious fits where he cannot control his behavior and cackles this insane laugh, which is kinda freaky at times. He has gotten nothing but negative reactions from everyone for his bad behavior, including us, the teachers and his peers, but he has still been unable to make better choices for himself. He is extremely impulsive and does not seem capable of changing it by himself. His biological father (who is barely involved) was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. The teachers told us at the parent conference that they have been working with him behaviorally for 3 years and there has been no real change, which makes them think it is not behavioral, but developmental. They asked if we had ever considered putting him on medication to help him with his impulsivity and give his brain a chance to slow down and focus so that he is capable of making better decisions.
This same child excels in academics, especially math and reading/writing. He can spend hours reading books and drawing. I believe he is gifted, but no one knows how to deal with the way his brain works, including me. He tells me that school is boring, even though I know the teachers try to keep up with his individual level of learning and challenge him. Their biggest problem with him academically is that he doesn't want to do the work that bores him, only the things he excels at and truly enjoys. At times he has refused to finish his work plan.
So, after the recent teacher conference, i took him to the ped. and after lots of paperwork and a full assessment, he was diagnosed with ADHD. We decided to try putting him on Concerta for a short time to see if it helped. The ped. said that if it didn't help, then that probably meant that he had an extreme case of oppositional defiant disorder which drugs would not help. I talked to my son and let him know exactly what was going on and what we were trying to do. He asked me if he could go and talk to somebody about how he feels, someone who is not a parent or teacher. It was perfect, because i wanted to get him into therapy anyway and I didn't want it to be something he fought because I suggested it. I figured even if it is ADHD, it can't hurt to have a place to talk about your feelings and I know that he hurts because of being made wrong and ostracized for behavior that he is unable to control. He has even said things like he wishes he were never born or that he wanted to kill himself or wishes he was dead. And all because he is so misunderstood!
So it has been about 2 weeks that he has been taking the Concerta and all of our lives have improved a great deal. He is able to handle himself now. He is not obnoxious, oppositional, defiant, etc. He takes no for an answer (for the first time EVER!) and apologizes when he knows he has done something wrong, where in the past he was so polarized he refused to take responsibility for his actions, partly because he didn't want to admit that he had made a bad choice (his impulsivity and inability to think before acting didn't help), and partly because he was so tired of being told how wrong he was.
Now maybe if i was a "normal" mom, I would just be jumping with joy and thanking God for the invention of pharmaceutical drugs to control my son's behavior, but I am not. I know the drugs haven't changed his personality, in fact, they have helped him to focus and let his true essence come through, but I still DO NOT want my son to be on drugs for the rest of his life. I keep thinking that maybe if we just do this for awhile and keep up with the therapy so that he can work out some of his anger and negative emotions for being made wrong for so long, and in the meantime get more information on how to deal with a child who thinks differently than the rest of the world, maybe we could wean him off the drugs and be able to integrate everyone and everything into a dynamic workable whole. Am I crazy? Is there any way? Does anyone have any experience with this? What did you do when your child was diagnosed?
I have been doing so much research since he was diagnosed and started taking Concerta, and i have found so much information, some that leads me to believe that he is gifted, not learning disabled. I see his personality not as faulty, but as so intense and dynamic that no one knows what to do with him, including him. I want to be able to make the best choices for him and advocate for him, but I just don't know what to do. I am contacting a man in our state to have him evaluated for giftedness. I have considered homeschooling him if it turns out that he IS gifted and just doesn't fit into the educational system (even one as progressive as Montessori), but I do not have support from my DP for that. He would rather I keep DS in school and on drugs so that I can continue going to school and working. At this point I feel like I am going to fight for my DS no matter what, even it means taking on DP. He has suffered for so many years being made wrong for his behavior because other people cannot understand him. I just want to stand by his side and say "You know what? I love you and we are in this together and we are gonna find a way to work things out so that we can all have a happy life together NO MATTER WHAT!" I have told him that before, but I know it has been hard for both of us to believe that anything was ever going to change before this drug therapy. Now I feel there is hope, but I still need insight and support, so here I am. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and/or respond to this.