Wednesday, May 30, 2012

our adventures with ADHD and the best gelato outside of Italy...

our pediatrician once described my son's ADHD as "a perfectly good bicycle without brakes." I will never forget this. it made more sense to me than anything i had heard thus far. we knew early on that nash had some behavioral and hyperactivity issues. it was obvious. whether it was his absolute inability to sit still, his resistance to making any eye contact, his frustration tantrums, or the countless and traumatic hours at bedtime we spent trying to reason with him and get him to bed... we knew in our guts that something was different. this became clear as a bell after our youngest, just 18 months behind, began to develop.

we tried it all. we de-glutenized, took out refined sugars, used bribery (sorry, but desperate times call for desperate measures). we ran him ragged after school, limited any amount of television and stimulation, threw out toys... all the while going a little bit nuts ourselves and getting nowhere. i'm no treehugger, but i didn't want to just throw medication at the problem. it then dawned on us that if he had a cold, we gave him cold medicine, if he had pain, we had no issue giving him tylenol. here was a major behavioral issue that was causing him trials and tribulations in school, preventing him from being social and just all around causing problems for him... yet we were hesitant to try and fix it with modern medicine. it didn't make much sense.

we took the leap and began nash on a very low dose of medication... it was on that day that our lives changed, nash's especially. he bloomed. his school work was being finished, his teacher told us he was finally participating, he began making friends, he started enjoying sports, he stopped breaking so many damn toys and he just became more settled in his own skin. it was the best thing we could have done for him.

before that day, there were a couple of years of complete stress and some darkness in our house. it was the elephant in the room. i limited playdates and avoided social situations with other kids, because i just didn't want to deal with nash acting out. i felt so bad for him, because of how much you love your own children... you want to see them happy, you want to see them have fun and spend time with peers, you want to see them succeed. we were watching nash struggle daily. it broke our hearts.

i'm sure this blog turns up many emotions. there's probably some pissed off parents who think we're nuts. boys are boys, maybe we should have taken out any dyes and preservatives, etc...  i agree that our society is over diagnosed, over medicated and under educated about these behaviors. i also know that if something is broken, you fix it. i wasn't going to watch my son fall through the cracks while i take out everything from his diet, teach him yoga, and feel completely helpless. this isn't a plug for meds, but more just to share our experience...  nash hasn't lost a bit of his boyness, he is energetic, playful, fingernails full of dirt from his construction sites... but now the sites are built with friends instead of alone and when he grabs his backpack in the morning, he does it with a smile and not tears.

we laid in bed last night and the three of us shared a pint of Talenti mint chocolate gelato. it was heaven in so many ways.



  1. I'm with you Bree. We went through the same thing with our daughter- starting at 18 months. She has Asbergers which is a form of autism,and ADHD, but is very high functioning. We went through years of OT and finally took the route with meds when she came home and said, "I'm just stupid." It broke my heart. There's such pressure to believe that if we just parent differently, discipline more, spend more time with them, etc. etc., it will fix the problem. As if we, are somehow the problem. The good news is that she has done remarkably well in school after she started meds, and has finally started getting A's. Her self esteem is better, and she's not in trouble all the time :)Hope things continue to go well for you. On a different note- there's an amazing book called Raising Cain, all about how to parent boys. It's similar to Reviving Ophelia (I think it's by the same author.) I read it while I was pregnant with my son, you might find it interesting. Hang in there!

  2. Beautifully written and thoughtful. It sounds as if you made a wise decision for Nash and did not just dive into meds at the first sign of a problem.

    So happy to hear that he is doing so well.

  3. My 21-year old sister has ADHD and has been taking medication since she was six years old. It changed her life and the rest of ours for the better. I can't help but think that people who criticize parents for medicating their ADHD children have never actually lived with one. This was a brave post. Well done. :)