Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A diagnosis, a plan, a goal

Ben has officially been diagnosed with ADHD after several weeks of testing and meetings.

Our pediatrician, a child psychiatrist, and a family therapist have all confirmed that his behaviors, descriptions of difficulties, interviews with his teachers, parents, and in person with Ben were indicative of a positive diagnosis and needed interventions.

The plan involves the following:

1. A combination of medication and behavior therapy. There is much more of a back story here about coming to a consensus about when, where, who will be evaluating, how Bill and I differ about this decision and how we have worked to compromise for Ben’s best interest a combined approach is the best choice. The bottom line that is research backed is Ben has the best chance of improvement with both used in tandem.

2. Bill and I have also agreed to spend the next 6 weeks in family therapy refining how discipline works in our house, fine tuning what we are doing with the sole focus on being a united front. Who you are to your kid is often illustrated by the choices you make in how you discipline.

3. Also on the list of interventions is continued use of the chart we have been using with Ben to track am/pm expectations. We are in week 4 and so far breaking down transitions into smaller parts has helped. I laminated our chart and use a wipe off pen. Bill does the am, I the pm.

The chart is an easy check in twice a day and a chance to earn 2nd chance at home if school has gone badly. We physically pay bear bucks at the end of each night and allow him to pick a reward at the end of the week. Rewards have buck values. Ben has bought in and it is working well, hence a recent reward weekend trip to Krispy Kreme.

Our therapist liked that his school contract works together with the chart at home and has asked his teacher to further break down her expectations of him into targeted goals. At our parent conference she was not only open to making changes, but also is willing to recommend a supportive and ADHD knowledgeable 1st grade teacher placement.

4. I have also asked her for a recommendation for a summer tutor to help review and build on his reading and writing skills over the summer. I am not working this summer and plan to use some part of the day working with Ben on his skills based on the recommendation of the tutor.

Bill and I thank our friends for the support as we move from perusing diagnosis to now working on interventions. I don’t expect that after a week of medication or a couple of sessions of therapy that Ben is going to suddenly be a different child.

These interventions are about helping him be successful in school, with his relationships, to feel he is a good boy who is capable of making good decisions over the long haul.

I am not surprised at all and in some ways this is a relief that maybe it wasn’t just parenting choices but rather a biological component going back to toddlerhood has been part of the problem.

When a meeting on yet another couch begins with, “you are not bad parents,” there is a part of you that wants to believe it. Another part that wants other people to also see that you are doing everything you can and have been doing everything you can for as long as you can remember and not judge you, judge your kid, judge your choices.

What I hope for Ben,for us as parents, for what decisions we are putting in place is support.


LauraC said...

This whole post reminded me of a comment I left on another blogfriend's blog this week. We've had some crap things happen in the last few years, hard things to parent.

So I followed the advice of my grandma Pat. Had a huge pity party for myself then put together a plan once I was done feeling sorry for myself. Sounds like you are in the plan stage.

I can't believe you didn't drop some KK by my house! ha!

Beth said...

I am almost jealous that you are going to family therapy. I know we would benefit from it. You, individually, and you guys as a family will be so much stronger because of all the effort and angst that you are going through now. It's a tough road, but in the end, you will be able to say that you did everything you could and gave everything you are for your family. You can't ask for anything more than that. Thanks for blogging about it. Your last paragraph says it all.