Friday, July 15, 2011

Knowing the difference

It’s been just over a year that Liam has been diagnosed with ADHD and taking medication for it. It’s been an amazing year – he went from reading at a kindergarten level to a grade three level. While we got him extra help for reading, I honestly believe that having the ADHD under control thanks to the medication was a huge factor in things. On those odd days where life is so crazy that we forget his medication in the morning, we are quickly reminded that there are many, many reasons for him to be taking it every day.

The medication is great, but it does only stay in his system for a specific period of time, so by the time everyone is home from school/camp/work, he is mostly medication free and very ADHDish. We do have a short acting dose that he can take late in the afternoon if we have something going on in the evening, but since it interferes with both his appetite and his ability to fall asleep, we don’t give it to him every day.

So while it’s great that he is in control and not so impulsive during the day so that he can learn, form friendships and play, Hilary and I get the brunt of the OMG-PULL-MY-HAIR-OUT behaviours in the evening.

What I’m trying to contend with is knowing the difference between ADHD behaviours and just everyday 9 year old stuff. Being that he’s an only child and none of our close friends have kids his age, we have no comparison points. Some things are very obviously ADHD driven – the need for constant motion, jumping on the trampoline, fidgeting, moving, spinning. These were some of the first behaviours to go when we started him on the medication. After 2 days we suddenly realized that we hadn’t said “Liam stop spinning” once, let alone the 10 billion times a day we had been saying it previously.

We’ve been struggling with Liam swearing lately. Both Hilary and I have been known to sound like a sailor if the situation warranted it, but we’ve been really good at not swearing (too much) in front of Liam. I first blogged about his swearing almost exactly one year ago. It’s not constant, but there are times when it drives me crazy!! I thought the swearing was just an age thing, trying his hand mouth at being all grown up. Till I came across a post that talked about how swearing is processed by the brain in the same area that is affected by ADHD and how kids with ADHD often swear more than non-ADHD kids. Who knew!

It got me thinking…. am I giving Liam a free pass on some things because I think it’s the ADHD or am I too hard on him for other things that may really be out of his control?

Knowing the difference is hard.
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